A fun (not frivolous) phonetic friend.

THE B ON YOUR THUMB

60 POEMS TO BOOST READING AND SPELLING

This selection of pithy phonetic poetry is both fun and educational.

Imported from the U.K., the book is divided into four sections: “Sounds,” “Silent letters and secrets,” “Words that sound the same,” and “Homophones.” A foreword assures caregivers (and independent readers) that the book can be read from cover to cover, but it’s OK to “just choose a rhyme that you think your child will enjoy.” With this knowledge (and a handful of other tips and tricks), readers will delight in the poems with their phonetic and spelling hints. Each poem is printed in two colors to allow the letters discussed to stand out and to aid visual connections: “The sh that’s in your shoulder, / the sh that’s in your shoe. / S and H go sh, / that is what they do.” The poems are witty, but a few rely on knowledge of British vocabulary or pronunciation to fully appreciate. These minor quibbles won’t detract from the merrymaking, however. The colorful cartoons feature anthropomorphic letters that elevate the humor and zaniness. The human characters depicted display a range of skin tones, hair textures, and ages, providing young readers a lot of opportunities to find themselves or a friend within the pages. It will work best as a lap book, but a skilled educator might be able to incorporate a poem or two into their storytelling repertoire, especially if they take advantage of the suggested extensions in the backmatter. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at 100% of actual size.)

A fun (not frivolous) phonetic friend. (Picture book/poetry. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-5460-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants.

A WORLD TOGETHER

Large color photographs (occasionally composed of montages) and accessible, simple text highlight global similarities and differences, always focusing on our universal connections.

While child readers may not recognize Manzano, the Puerto Rican actress who played Maria on Sesame Street, adults will recognize her as a trusted diverse voice. In her endnote, she explains her desire to “encourage lively conversations about shared experiences.” Starting out with the familiar, home and community, the text begins with “How many WONDERFUL PEOPLE do you know?” Then it moves out to the world: “Did you know there are about 8 BILLION PEOPLE on the planet?” The photo essay features the usual concrete similarities and differences found in many books of this type, such as housing (a Mongolian yurt opposite a Hong Kong apartment building overlooking a basketball court), food (dumplings, pizza, cotton candy, a churro, etc.), and school. Manzano also makes sure to point out likenesses in emotions, as shown in a montage of photos from countries including China, Spain, Kashmir (Pakistan/India), and the United States. At the end, a world map and thumbnail images show the locations of all photos, revealing a preponderance of examples from the U.S. and a slight underrepresentation for Africa and South America.

Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3738-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness.

THE BRAIN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

An introduction to the lead guitar and vocalist for the Brainiacs—the human brain.

The brain (familiar to readers of Seluk’s “The Awkward Yeti” webcomic, which spun off the adult title Heart and Brain, 2015) looks like a dodgeball with arms and legs—pinkish, sturdy, and roundish, with a pair of square-framed spectacles bestowing an air of importance and hipness. Other organs of the body—tongue, lungs, stomach, muscle, and heart—are featured as members of the brain’s rock band (the verso of the dust jacket is a poster of the band). Seluk’s breezy, conversational prose and brightly colored, boldly outlined cartoon illustrations deliver basic information. The brain’s role in keeping the heart beating and other automatic functions, directing body movements, interpreting sights and sounds, remembering smells and tastes, and regulating sleep and hunger are all explained, prose augmented by dialogue balloons and information sidebars. Seluk points out, importantly, that feelings originate in the brain: “You can control how you react…but your feelings happen no matter what.” The parodied album covers on the front endpapers (including the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Green Day, Run DMC, Queen, Nirvana) will amuse parents—or at least grandparents—and the rear endpapers serve up band members’ clever social media and texting screenshots. Backmatter includes a glossary and further brain trivia but no resources or bibliography.

A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-16700-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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