An attractive and informative volume for young stargazers.

READ REVIEW

JUST RIGHT

SEARCHING FOR THE GOLDILOCKS PLANET

A young girl looks out her window, pondering the universe. A subsequent family trip to the planetarium gives her a lot to think about.

Are we alone in the universe? Are there other “Goldilocks planets” out there capable of sustaining life, planets that are “not too hot and not too cold, not too big and not too small, not too soft and not too hard” but “just right”? Older adult readers might hear the voice of Carl Sagan in the narrative, an authoritative, planetarium-movie voice explaining the universe with a focus on “exoplanets,” planets that orbit stars outside of our solar system. Kids may imagine Neal DeGrasse Tyson. Woven through the text are the twin narratives of the girl and her family’s visit to the planetarium and its “Searching for Exoplanets” exhibition. The illustrations, suffused with glowing light, are dynamically varied, including a colorful double-page spread of the Milky Way galaxy, panels carrying information, fanciful visions of other worlds, and an all-black spread with just one stark sentence in white: “Or maybe it’s like nothing we can even imagine.” Lanan effectively balances the girl’s visual narrative with the heavier scientific exposition of the text. The girl, who has exuberantly kinky hair, and her family present black; other planetarium guests are a diverse group. Thorough backmatter includes books, websites, astronomy clubs, and various websites for further exploration.

An attractive and informative volume for young stargazers. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-15533-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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Science at its best: informative and gross.

DO NOT LICK THIS BOOK

Why not? Because “IT’S FULL OF GERMS.”

Of course, Ben-Barak rightly notes, so is everything else—from your socks to the top of Mount Everest. Just to demonstrate, he invites readers to undertake an exploratory adventure (only partly imaginary): First touch a certain seemingly blank spot on the page to pick up a microbe named Min, then in turn touch teeth, shirt, and navel to pick up Rae, Dennis, and Jake. In the process, readers watch crews of other microbes digging cavities (“Hey kid, brush your teeth less”), spreading “lovely filth,” and chowing down on huge rafts of dead skin. For the illustrations, Frost places dialogue balloons and small googly-eyed cartoon blobs of diverse shape and color onto Rundgren’s photographs, taken using a scanning electron microscope, of the fantastically rugged surfaces of seemingly smooth paper, a tooth, textile fibers, and the jumbled crevasses in a belly button. The tour concludes with more formal introductions and profiles for Min and the others: E. coli, Streptococcus, Aspergillus niger, and Corynebacteria. “Where will you take Min tomorrow?” the author asks teasingly. Maybe the nearest bar of soap.

Science at its best: informative and gross. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17536-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders.

THE BIG BOOK OF THE BLUE

Denizens of the deep crowd oversized pages in this populous gallery of ocean life.

The finny and tentacled sea creatures drifting or arrowing through Zommer’s teeming watercolor seascapes are generally recognizable, and they are livened rather than distorted by the artist’s tendency to place human eyes on the same side of many faces, Picasso-like. Headers such as “Ink-teresting” or “In for the krill” likewise add a playful tone to the pithy comments on anatomical features or behavioral quirks that accompany the figures (which include, though rarely, a white human diver). The topical spreads begin with an overview of ocean families (“Some are hairy, some have scales, some have fins and some are boneless and brainless!”), go on to introduce select animals in no particular order from sea horses and dragonets to penguins and pufferfish, then close with cautionary remarks on chemical pollution and floating plastic. The author invites readers as they go to find both answers to such questions as “Why does a crab run sideways?” and also a small sardine hidden in some, but not all, of the pictures. For the latter he provides a visual key at the end, followed by a basic glossary.

A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders. (index) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-500-65119-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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