A first look at volcanoes by the author of Rivers: Nature’s Busy Waterways (p. 412). Here the author tries to explain what volcanoes are, where they are found, how they form, and what happens when they explode. He states: “Every day somewhere volcanoes erupt. From far off they look like beautiful fireworks. But up close, a volcano is no fun.” The illustrator avoids that understatement showing a lurid double-page spread of a fiery, red-orange, erupting volcano, followed by a double-page spread of catapulting rocks and smoke. Harrison has a difficult time making the text clear, accurate, and accessible. For example, he states: “If too much gas is trapped inside, part of the mountain may blow off, hurling rocks heavier than elephants for miles.” But not all mountains are volcanoes, and how does the gas get trapped inside? Rocks bigger than elephants hurled for miles? Sometimes, the text doesn’t seem to make sense, for example: “Most magna moves toward the crust where it cools and sinks again. But some magna breaks though weak spots by rising through cracks like chimney flues until at last it bubbles or blasts free onto the surface.” Why does it move toward the crust? Why does it cool when it moves toward the crust? Why does it sink? What are chimney flues? This title will lead to more questions than answers. Curious readers should look elsewhere. (Nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 1-56397-996-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002

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Who is next in the ocean food chain? Pallotta has a surprising answer in this picture book glimpse of one curious boy. Danny, fascinated by plankton, takes his dory and rows out into the ocean, where he sees shrimp eating those plankton, fish sand eels eating shrimp, mackerel eating fish sand eels, bluefish chasing mackerel, tuna after bluefish, and killer whales after tuna. When an enormous humpbacked whale arrives on the scene, Danny’s dory tips over and he has to swim for a large rock or become—he worries’someone’s lunch. Surreal acrylic illustrations in vivid blues and red extend the story of a small boy, a small boat, and a vast ocean, in which the laws of the food chain are paramount. That the boy has been bathtub-bound during this entire imaginative foray doesn’t diminish the suspense, and the facts Pallotta presents are solidly researched. A charming fish tale about the one—the boy—that got away. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-88106-075-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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A launch-pad fizzle.


Flaps and pull-tabs in assorted astro-scenes reveal several wonders of the universe as well as inside glimpses of observatories, rockets, a space suit, and the International Space Station.

Interactive features include a spinnable Milky Way, pop-up launches of Ariane and Soyuz rockets, a solar-system tour, visits to the surfaces of the moon and Mars, and cutaway views beneath long, thin flaps of an international array of launch vehicles. Despite these bells and whistles, this import is far from ready for liftoff. Not only has Antarctica somehow gone missing from the pop-up globe, but Baumann’s commentary (at least in Booker’s translation from the French original) shows more enthusiasm than strict attention to accuracy. Both Mercury and Venus are designated “hottest planet” (right answer: Venus); claims that there is no gravity in space and that black holes are a type of star are at best simplistic; and “we do not know what [other galaxies] actually look like” is nonsensical. Moreover, in a clumsy attempt to diversify the cast on a spread about astronaut training, Latyk gives an (evidently) Asian figure caricatured slit eyes and yellow skin.

A launch-pad fizzle. (Informational pop-up picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 979-1-02760-197-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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