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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Produced to celebrate the National Park Service’s upcoming centenary, a breezy invitation to prospective travelers to “get...

OUR GREAT BIG BACKYARD

A family road trip through several national parks transforms young Jane’s feelings about missing out on a summer of online fun with her friends.

“There’s absolutely nothing to see here,” Jane emails fretfully as her family drives through the scenic Smoky Mountains and canoes past alligators and manatees in the Everglades. But once her dad gets her to put the tablet away and look through a telescope at the night skies over Big Bend National Park, her attitude transforms: “OH WOW!” Soon she’s tiptoeing over the Grand Canyon’s Skywalk like an acrobat, playing pirate on a raft down the Colorado River, scouting out “Mountain lions, buffalo, and bears. Oh my!” in Yellowstone—and, discovering that she’s misplaced her electronic device, sending written postcards to her friends from Yosemite. Furthermore, once back home, what better way to debrief than a backyard cookout under the stars? Giving blonde Jane and the rest of her white family broad, pleasant features, Rogers sends them smiling and singing their way through a succession of natural wonders, with bears and bald eagles, footnotes (adult supervision required on the Skywalk, for instance), and only a few fellow, occasionally diverse tourists in the background. Endpaper maps track the long itinerary, and a (select) list of other national parks and sites in each state offers more destinations.

Produced to celebrate the National Park Service’s upcoming centenary, a breezy invitation to prospective travelers to “get out there!” (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-246835-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

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Readers (and listeners) will think that this book is the bee’s knees.

THE HONEYBEE

Children will be buzzing to learn more about honeybees after reading this story.

Hall takes her readers on a sunny romp through a springtime pasture abuzz with friendly honeybees in this bright and cheerful picture book. Hall’s rhyme scheme is inviting and mirrors the staccato sounds of a bee buzzing. At times, however, meaning seems to take a back seat to the rhyme. The bees are suggested to “tap” while flying, a noise that adult readers might have trouble explaining to curious listeners. Later, the “hill” the bees return to may elicit further questions, as this point is not addressed textually or visually. Minor quibbles aside, the vocabulary is on-point as the bees demonstrate the various stages of nectar collection and honey creation. Arsenault’s illustrations, a combination of ink, gouache, graphite, and colored pencil, are energetic and cheerful. Extra points should be awarded for properly illustrating a natural honeybee hive (as opposed to the often depicted wasp nest). The expressive bees are also well-done. Their faces are welcoming, but their sharp noses hint at the stingers that may be lurking behind them. Hall’s ending note to readers will be appreciated by adults but will require their interpretation to be accessible to children. A sensible choice for read-alouds and STEAM programs.

Readers (and listeners) will think that this book is the bee’s knees. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6997-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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