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This low-pressure look at public-waste disposal and small-scale recycling avoids controversy in favor of consciousness-raising.

“An average kitchen-size bag of trash contains enough energy to light a 100-watt lightbulb for more than 24 hours.” Endpapers open and close with this and other unsourced but probably in-the-ballpark statistics. The book proper begins with a basic definition of “trash” and moves on to descriptions and tidy cartoon views of landfills and of collection sites for batteries and other hazardous household waste, then concludes with a few simple suggestions for reducing, reusing and recycling. Meisel’s sunny scenes of adults and children playing in a park laid over a landfill, re-using paper goods, presenting eco-science projects and watching garbage trucks roll by reflect the relaxed tone of Ward’s discourse. If topics like garbage-dump–related groundwater pollution and health issues or industrial- and nuclear-waste disposal receive scant or no attention, newly independent readers will at least come away with the basic notion that reducing trash production is a good idea. This latest entry in the venerable Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science series lays some groundwork for promoting responsible use of resources. Save the strident and scarier appeals for later. (website list, composting instructions) (Informational picture book. 7-9)


Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0061687563

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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From the Technical Tales series

Young makers will find the Scrap Pack’s enthusiasm infectious, but even as broad overviews, these offer at best incomplete...

A mouse, a bird, and a junkyard frog assemble a car from the ground up—cluing in readers who may be a bit vague on what’s beneath all those hoods…or at least what used to be.

Enlisting his green buddy Hank to supply the parts and feathered Phoebe to draw up the plans, Eli, “king of crazy ideas,” sees his latest project grow from a frame and some miscellaneous loose parts to a nifty blue convertible with a classic 1950s look. At each stage, Sodomka supplies clearly drawn angled or cutaway views with dozens of major components labeled, from “steering knuckle bracket” to “tie rod” and “ball joint.” The gas tank is labeled but seems to be missing, though, and readers who want to know what a “differential” actually does or the purpose of the “indicator switch” are out of luck. Lacey’s claim that an engine “is like the brain of the car” doesn’t bear close examination, either. Moreover, the finished auto isn’t much like most modern cars, as it has no electronic elements, for instance, and is powered by a three-cylinder engine (misleadingly billed as “regular”) quaintly fed by a long-obsolescent carburetor. With an auto under their belts (and with similar oversimplification), Eli’s “Scrap Pack” goes on to an even more ambitious enterprise in How to Build a Plane. In both volumes, closer looks at selected systems or related topics follow the storyline’s happy conclusion, and each broad trial-and-error step in the construction is recapped at the end.

Young makers will find the Scrap Pack’s enthusiasm infectious, but even as broad overviews, these offer at best incomplete pictures. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63322-041-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Quarto

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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Prospective space tourists should have no trouble finding a more reliable travel guide.

Barr and Williams present 13.8 billion years of cosmic history, from the Big Bang to the International Space Station and, possibly soon, flights beyond.

The co-authors write with the same enthusiasm and energy they showed in telling The Story of Life (2015) but with less regard for accuracy or internal logic. Following an inherently paradoxical opening claim that “Before the Big Bang there was….[n]o time,” they go on with a sweeping survey of the cosmos. It offers a picture of galaxies “sparkling silently” (wrong on both counts) in “bitterly cold” space (likewise wrong: space has no temperature), with incomplete references to the “freezing” atmospheres of our solar system’s other planets (Venus’ 462 C average temperature goes unmentioned) and the “cold, dusty moon” orbiting Earth (cold only on the side away from the sun). Two space-suited young explorers, one light-skinned, one dark, float through painted illustrations that progress from mighty explosions and swirling starscapes to closely packed planets, fleets of early spacecraft, a cloud of satellites, and, finally, space liners ferrying multicultural tour groups to an orbiting hotel, or maybe Mars.

Prospective space tourists should have no trouble finding a more reliable travel guide. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-78603-003-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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