From the Books for a Better Earth series

An important topic gets a very appealing treatment.

Sometimes you just have to suck it up.

If you imagine drinking straws are a modern innovation, think again. This timely exploration of an environmental problem informs readers about the long history of the slender tube many beverage drinkers take for granted. Straws actually date back more than five millennia to ancient Sumer. When Sumerians needed to find a way to filter out thick substances from their home-brewed beverages, they ingeniously used thin, hollow reeds, enabling them to imbibe only liquids. Over the centuries, other civilizations developed similar drinking tubes made from various plants and other items, including straw, from which the implement we now use derived its name. In the late 19th century in Washington, D.C., Marvin Stone invented and patented the paper straw. In the late 1930s, another American, Joseph Friedman, developed and patented the “bendy straw,” which was sold after World War II ended. In the 1950s, straws began to be manufactured from plastic; by the following decade, they were ubiquitous, ultimately contributing to environmental disaster. In direct, well-written prose, the author makes starkly clear how “single-use plastics,” such as straws, water bottles, and plastic bags, harm the Earth, oceans, and sea creatures and offers easy, sensible, responsible solutions that everyone can adopt to help the planet while not having to abandon straws entirely. The bold digital illustrations are eye-catching and inventive and maintain high reader interest. Racial diversity is depicted throughout. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An important topic gets a very appealing treatment. (author’s note, sources, index) (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4949-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022

1001 BEES

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021


From the Everything Awesome About… series

A quick flight but a blast from first to last.

A charged-up roundup of astro-facts.

Having previously explored everything awesome about both dinosaurs (2019) and sharks (2020), Lowery now heads out along a well-traveled route, taking readers from the Big Bang through a planet-by-planet tour of the solar system and then through a selection of space-exploration highlights. The survey isn’t unique, but Lowery does pour on the gosh-wow by filling each hand-lettered, poster-style spread with emphatic colors and graphics. He also goes for the awesome in his selection of facts—so that readers get nothing about Newton’s laws of motion, for instance, but will come away knowing that just 65 years separate the Wright brothers’ flight and the first moon landing. They’ll also learn that space is silent but smells like burned steak (according to astronaut Chris Hadfield), that thanks to microgravity no one snores on the International Space Station, and that Buzz Aldrin was the first man on the moon…to use the bathroom. And, along with a set of forgettable space jokes (OK, one: “Why did the carnivore eat the shooting star?” “Because it was meteor”), the backmatter features drawing instructions for budding space artists and a short but choice reading list. Nods to Katherine Johnson and NASA’s other African American “computers” as well as astronomer Vera Rubin give women a solid presence in the otherwise male and largely White cast of humans. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A quick flight but a blast from first to last. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-35974-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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