Utilitarian of format but well organized and with plenty of grist for both minds and hands.

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HENRY DAVID THOREAU FOR KIDS

HIS LIFE AND IDEAS, WITH 21 ACTIVITIES

From the ...For Kids series

A portrait of Thoreau as a seminal American philosopher and naturalist, with nearly two dozen projects that will have young readers marching to his beat.

Though Smith doesn’t suggest that students get arrested and thrown in jail like Thoreau, she does offer other activities that reflect his significant insights and achievements—from keeping a daily journal and gardening to closely examining a simple spoonful of sand or checking out the world from a fresh angle by climbing to a high place. With particular focus on his many wilderness expeditions, she lights her account of his brief life (he died at 44) and his views with the thesis that his enduring significance lies in his rare ability to make what he saw and experienced in his time recognizable to readers of any other. Understanding nonetheless that less-practiced readers may find his style difficult, she enlarges on the many short quotes throughout with a topical table of cogent passages from Walden. Also, with an eye on Common Core standards, she tucks in discussion points such as Thoreau’s use of metaphor and simile and draws intellectual connections among Thoreau, his friends, and the politically active women in his own family, not to mention later figures like Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

Utilitarian of format but well organized and with plenty of grist for both minds and hands. (period photos, bibliography, endnotes, index) (Biography. 11-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61373-146-8

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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Far from comprehensive but visually arresting and, at times, provocative.

HUMAN BODY

From the Information Graphics series

Stylized graphics rendered in saturated hues set this quick overview of body systems apart from the general run.

Arranged in tabbed and color-coded sections, the tour covers familiar ground but often from an unusual angle. The tally of human senses at the beginning, for instance, includes “proprioception” (physical multitasking), and ensuing chapters on the skeletal, circulatory and other systems are capped with a miscellany of body contents and products—from selected parasites and chemicals to farts and sweat. Likewise, descriptions of a dozen physical components of the “Brain Box” are followed by notes on more slippery mental functions like “Consciousness” and “Imagination.” The facts and observations gathered by Rogers are presented as labels or captions. They are interspersed on each spread with flat, eye-dazzling images designed by Grundy not with anatomical correctness in mind but to show processes or relationships at a glance. Thus, to show body parts most sensitive to touch, a silhouette figure sports an oversized hand and foot, plus Homer Simpson lips (though genitals are absent, which seems overcautious as an explicit section on reproduction follows a few pages later), and a stack of bathtubs illustrates the quantity of urine the average adult produces in an average lifetime (385 bathtubs’ worth). There is no backmatter.

Far from comprehensive but visually arresting and, at times, provocative. (Nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7123-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Big Picture/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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I WANT TO BE AN ENVIRONMENTALIST

This glossy, colorful title in the “I Want To Be” series has visual appeal but poor organization and a fuzzy focus, which limits its usefulness. Each double-paged layout introduces a new topic with six to eight full-color photographs and a single column of text. Topics include types of environmentalists, eco-issues, waste renewal, education, High School of Environmental Studies, environmental vocabulary, history of environmentalism, famous environmentalists, and the return of the eagle. Often the photographs have little to do with the text or are marginal to the topic. For example, a typical layout called “Some Alternative Solutions” has five snapshots superimposed on a double-page photograph of a California wind farm. The text discusses ways to develop alternative forms of energy and “encourage environmentally friendly lifestyles.” Photos include “a healer who treats a patient with alternative therapy using sound and massage,” and “the Castle,” a house built of “used tires and aluminum cans.” Elsewhere, “Did You Know . . . ” shows a dramatic photo of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, but the text provides odd facts such as “ . . . that in Saudi Arabia there are solar-powered pay phones in the desert?” Some sections seem stuck in, a two-page piece on the effects of “El Niño” or 50 postage-stamp–sized photos of endangered species. The author concludes with places to write for more information and a list of photo credits. Pretty, but little here to warrant purchase. (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-15-201862-X

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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