A tantalizing taste of the (literally) high life.

LETTERS FROM SPACE

A retired astronaut explains what life is like aboard the International Space Station.

Plainly based on memories of his own 5-month space-station mission in 2007, Anderson’s (fictive) letters to family and students not only make reference to scientific work and day-to-day routines, but positively fizz with the sense of being on a great adventure: “I fly to the bathroom—and I even fly when I’m going to the bathroom. So cool!” and “I was like one of those guys who fix wires on utility poles. But in SPACE!” Batori captures the exhilaration with cartoon scenes featuring a diverse crew of pop-eyed humans (plus one green extraterrestrial) in various orientations, joined by various imagined animals (“It would be neat to have a dog or a cat, but what a mess with no gravity!”), floating foodstuffs, and, following an eventual return to Earth, a cheering crowd at a “Welcome Home” party. The author closes with a more-detailed recap, so young readers with serious questions relating to the physiology of space adaptation syndrome are just as well served as those who are keenly interested in how long astronauts have to wear their underwear. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 83% of actual size.)

A tantalizing taste of the (literally) high life. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-53411-074-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so...

TOUCH THE EARTH

From the Julian Lennon White Feather Flier Adventure series , Vol. 1

A pro bono Twinkie of a book invites readers to fly off in a magic plane to bring clean water to our planet’s oceans, deserts, and brown children.

Following a confusingly phrased suggestion beneath a soft-focus world map to “touch the Earth. Now touch where you live,” a shake of the volume transforms it into a plane with eyes and feathered wings that flies with the press of a flat, gray “button” painted onto the page. Pressing like buttons along the journey releases a gush of fresh water from the ground—and later, illogically, provides a filtration device that changes water “from yucky to clean”—for thirsty groups of smiling, brown-skinned people. At other stops, a tap on the button will “help irrigate the desert,” and touching floating bottles and other debris in the ocean supposedly makes it all disappear so the fish can return. The 20 children Coh places on a globe toward the end are varied of skin tone, but three of the four young saviors she plants in the flier’s cockpit as audience stand-ins are white. The closing poem isn’t so openly parochial, though it seldom rises above vague feel-good sentiments: “Love the Earth, the moon and sun. / All the children can be one.”

“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so easy to clean the place up and give everyone a drink? (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-2083-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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Hurray for the underdog.

PLUTO GETS THE CALL

Heart (-shaped surface feature) literally broken by its demotion from planet status, Pluto glumly conducts readers on a tour of the solar system.

You’d be bummed, too. Angrily rejecting the suggestions of “mean scientists” from Earth that “ice dwarf” or “plutoid” might serve as well (“Would you like to be called humanoid?”), Pluto drifts out of the Kuiper Belt to lead readers past the so-called “real” planets in succession. All sport faces with googly eyes in Keller’s bright illustrations, and distinct personalities, too—but also actual physical characteristics (“Neptune is pretty icy. And gassy. I’m not being mean, he just is”) that are supplemented by pages of “fun facts” at the end. Having fended off Saturn’s flirtation, endured Jupiter’s stormy reception (“Keep OFF THE GAS!”) and relentless mockery from the asteroids, and given Earth the cold shoulder, Pluto at last takes the sympathetic suggestion of Venus and Mercury to talk to the Sun. “She’s pretty bright.” A (what else?) warm welcome, plus our local star’s comforting reminders that every celestial body is unique (though “people talk about Uranus for reasons I don’t really want to get into”), and anyway, scientists are still arguing the matter because that’s what “science” is all about, mend Pluto’s heart at last: “Whatever I’m called, I’ll always be PLUTO!”

Hurray for the underdog. (afterword) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1453-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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