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A superficial, less-than-informative sketch.

A quick overview of the history of maps and of mapmakers’ tools from stone chisels to GPS satellites.

Less a factual history than a meditation on our innate need to record where the woods end and where streams or trails go, this survey begins with a prehistoric couple daubing marks on a cave wall and carving lines into a mammoth tusk, then zips in a vaguely chronological way around the world and to the present. Robbins delivers nods to old styles of maps from North America, Polynesia, China, Egypt, and Babylonia before ending with modern surveyors and a view of our planet from orbit. The author frames his terse commentary in broad, impersonal generalities (not always accurate ones: The world was probably “proved” to be round long before European explorers made their journeys), leaving it to the closing timeline to sprinkle specific names and dates next to a highly select set of historical artifacts and highlights. Conversely, Tavares focuses on the human element in his illustrations, depicting one figure in Renaissance clothing delightedly peering through a theodolite and elsewhere an individually drawn, racially diverse cast directly creating or using maps in various locales and successive eras. Along with this disconnect between the visual and textual approaches, huge swathes of topical territory go unexamined, from techniques of undersea mapping to basics such as map projections and common symbols.

A superficial, less-than-informative sketch. (author’s and illustrator’s notes, more information on mapmaking, bibliography) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2024

ISBN: 9780593479254

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2024

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An in-depth and visually pleasing look at one of the most fundamental forces in the universe.

An introduction to gravity.

The book opens with the most iconic demonstration of gravity, an apple falling. Throughout, Herz tackles both huge concepts—how gravity compresses atoms to form stars and how black holes pull all kinds of matter toward them—and more concrete ones: how gravity allows you to jump up and then come back down to the ground. Gravity narrates in spare yet lyrical verse, explaining how it creates planets and compresses atoms and comparing itself to a hug. “My embrace is tight enough that you don’t float like a balloon, but loose enough that you can run and leap and play.” Gravity personifies itself at times: “I am stubborn—the bigger things are, the harder I pull.” Beautiful illustrations depict swirling planets and black holes alongside racially diverse children playing, running, and jumping, all thanks to gravity. Thorough backmatter discusses how Sir Isaac Newton discovered gravity and explains Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. While at times Herz’s explanations may be a bit too technical for some readers, burgeoning scientists will be drawn in.

An in-depth and visually pleasing look at one of the most fundamental forces in the universe. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 15, 2024

ISBN: 9781668936849

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2024

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From the How To Explain Science series

A lighthearted first look at an increasingly useful skill.

Grown-ups may not be the only audience for this simple explanation of how algorithms work.

Taking a confused-looking hipster parent firmly in hand, a child first points to all the computers around the house (“Pro Tip: When dealing with grown-ups, don’t jump into the complicated stuff too fast. Start with something they already know”). Next, the child leads the adult outside to make and follow step-by-step directions for getting to the park, deciding which playground equipment to use, and finally walking home. Along the way, concepts like conditionals and variables come into play in street maps and diagrams, and a literal bug stands in for the sort that programmers will inevitably need to find and solve. The lesson culminates in an actual sample of very simple code with labels that unpack each instruction…plus a pop quiz to lay out a decision tree for crossing the street, because if “your grown-up can explain it, that shows they understand it!” That goes for kids, too—and though Spiro doesn’t take the logical next step and furnish leads to actual manuals, young (and not so young) fledgling coders will find plenty of good ones around, such as Get Coding! (2017), published by Candlewick, or Rachel Ziter’s Coding From Scratch (2018).

A lighthearted first look at an increasingly useful skill. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2023

ISBN: 9781623543181

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

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