Heartily inspiring.

READ REVIEW

HEARTBEAT

From the Imagine This! series

Using a combination of poetic language and supplemental prose paragraphs, the author relates facts about the hearts and heartbeats of a dozen different animals—including human beings.

Bold, bright, full-color art accompanies each double-page spread. On the first, the image of what appears to be a mammal’s heart supports the artist’s bio, which notes the influence of mid-20th-century design and color. Accompanying it, 11 lines of text, displayed in center alignment, briefly describe a heart’s function and then dwell on the heartbeat as the “unmistakable sound of a tireless muscle….Lub-dub. Lub-dub. Lub-dub.” That particular onomatopoeia is used for the heartbeats of an octopus, a python, and a human being. (Boyle doesn’t attempt this device for the heartbeat of an Etruscan pygmy shrew—an astonishing 1,500 beats per minute.) Each animal’s spread is worth a good deal of attention, both for the information itself and for the use of different kinds of poetic devices. There is humor, too; no one should miss the funny rhymes about the “relaxed” camel and its “untaxed” heart. Although comparisons among an astonishing range of heartbeats and types of hearts are part of the fun, the sheer amount of words, concepts, and literary play makes this perhaps better suited for reference—in terms of both science and language arts—than as a one-sitting read. Some readers may be taken aback at the omission of bears from the list of the “only four mammals in North America that hibernate.”

Heartily inspiring. (author’s note, resources) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8075-3190-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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

THE BRAIN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

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 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders.

THE BIG BOOK OF THE BLUE

Denizens of the deep crowd oversized pages in this populous gallery of ocean life.

The finny and tentacled sea creatures drifting or arrowing through Zommer’s teeming watercolor seascapes are generally recognizable, and they are livened rather than distorted by the artist’s tendency to place human eyes on the same side of many faces, Picasso-like. Headers such as “Ink-teresting” or “In for the krill” likewise add a playful tone to the pithy comments on anatomical features or behavioral quirks that accompany the figures (which include, though rarely, a white human diver). The topical spreads begin with an overview of ocean families (“Some are hairy, some have scales, some have fins and some are boneless and brainless!”), go on to introduce select animals in no particular order from sea horses and dragonets to penguins and pufferfish, then close with cautionary remarks on chemical pollution and floating plastic. The author invites readers as they go to find both answers to such questions as “Why does a crab run sideways?” and also a small sardine hidden in some, but not all, of the pictures. For the latter he provides a visual key at the end, followed by a basic glossary.

A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders. (index) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-500-65119-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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