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Lands with a dull thud despite being light on factual mass.

How gravity works on things from apples to planets.

After an incorrect claim that Newton was “the first to describe gravity” (actually a topic of scholarly discussion since ancient times), Adler goes on to explain that mass is not the same as weight and to lay out the effects of distance between two attracting bodies. Expanding into the solar system he presents supposed weights for a 100-pound reader on Jupiter and the sun (omitting the fact that neither body has a surface that said reader could stand on). A confusingly incomplete introduction to orbital mechanics includes the notion of inertia—but never connects the Newtonian dots to explain why planets don’t move in straight lines. “There’s a lot more to gravity,” he vaguely remarks after all this, finishing in the same simplistic vein as he began by defining it as the force “that keeps everything in its place.” In Raff’s sparsely detailed pictures a mouse in a stereotypically schoolmarmish frock conducts two human children, one pale and the other brown-skinned, through various earthly and extraterrestrial scenes, pausing occasionally to let the children demonstrate physical principles or effects with balls, sheets of paper, and like common materials. Along with a richer (and funnier) visual experience, readers who fall into Jason Chin’s Gravity (2014) will ultimately touch down with a clearer understanding of how the phenomenon keeps people and planets in their courses. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 77% of actual size.)

Lands with a dull thud despite being light on factual mass. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4636-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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A gleeful game for budding naturalists.

Artfully cropped animal portraits challenge viewers to guess which end they’re seeing.

In what will be a crowd-pleasing and inevitably raucous guessing game, a series of close-up stock photos invite children to call out one of the titular alternatives. A page turn reveals answers and basic facts about each creature backed up by more of the latter in a closing map and table. Some of the posers, like the tail of an okapi or the nose on a proboscis monkey, are easy enough to guess—but the moist nose on a star-nosed mole really does look like an anus, and the false “eyes” on the hind ends of a Cuyaba dwarf frog and a Promethea moth caterpillar will fool many. Better yet, Lavelle saves a kicker for the finale with a glimpse of a small parasitical pearlfish peeking out of a sea cucumber’s rear so that the answer is actually face and butt. “Animal identification can be tricky!” she concludes, noting that many of the features here function as defenses against attack: “In the animal world, sometimes your butt will save your face and your face just might save your butt!” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gleeful game for budding naturalists. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781728271170

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023

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

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 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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