Energetic enough to carry younger rocketeers off the launch pad if not into a very high orbit.

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PROFESSOR ASTRO CAT'S SPACE ROCKETS

From the Professor Astro Cat series

The bubble-helmeted feline explains what rockets do and the role they have played in sending people (and animals) into space.

Addressing a somewhat younger audience than in previous outings (Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space, 2013, etc.), Astro Cat dispenses with all but a light shower of “factoroids” to describe how rockets work. A highly selective “History of Space Travel” follows—beginning with a crew of fruit flies sent aloft in 1947, later the dog Laika (her dismal fate left unmentioned), and the human Yuri Gagarin. Then it’s on to Apollo 11 in 1969; the space shuttles Discovery, Columbia, and Challenger (the fates of the latter two likewise elided); the promise of NASA’s next-gen Orion and the Space Launch System; and finally vague closing references to other rockets in the works for local tourism and, eventually, interstellar travel. In the illustrations the spacesuited professor, joined by a mouse and cat in similar dress, do little except float in space and point at things. Still, the art has a stylish retro look, and portraits of Sally Ride and Guion Bluford diversify an otherwise all-white, all-male astronaut corps posing heroically or riding blocky, geometric spacecraft across starry reaches.

Energetic enough to carry younger rocketeers off the launch pad if not into a very high orbit. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-911171-55-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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More-conventional versions will be more likely to keep readers hooked.

THE SALMON OF KNOWLEDGE

An old Irish tale retold, featuring a renowned poet/teacher, a young warrior-in-training, and a very special fish.

It all begins when a salmon eats nine windfallen hazelnuts, thus acquiring “all the knowledge and secrets of the world.” Knowing that one taste of the salmon will transmit all that, “wise poet” Finnegas sets to fishing, eventually catches it, and orders his student Fionn to cook it without taking a single bite—only to be disappointed when Fionn burns himself on a drop of fat and reflexively puts his thumb in his mouth. Buckley offers a decidedly offbeat rendition of this popular tale, with dinosaur skeletons in one of her naïve-style collage scenes and a droll set of goals for warrior training that includes running beneath a knee-high branch. She also places Finnegas, in essence a bit player, in the forefront of a legend that’s really (and with stronger logic) been about the great hero Finn McCool since its earliest recorded versions. Unfortunately, the author seems to lose both interest and attention at the end. Following his climactic letdown (which is marred by a typo), Finnegas just drops abruptly out of view. Even a closing line about how the story’s now told far and wide dubs it only “Fionn and the Salmon of Knowledge.” There is no source note.

More-conventional versions will be more likely to keep readers hooked. (Picture book/folktale. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-76036-070-2

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Starfish Bay

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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While the illustrations are often flawed and feel outdated, their overall boldness and simplicity make for a nice book of...

MY ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA

French illustrator Grée’s colorful and iconic images are put front and center alongside facts on nature, animals, transportation, and space in this encyclopedia for young readers.

This book walks through a young child’s world from the basics of plants, foods, and animals to human-made homes and modes of transportation. The illustrations are the focus, with bold, themed double-page spreads and colorful, lifelike images. Some pages are so picture-focused that they include next to no text, while others—such as the two pages on animal skills and survival—strike a nice balance of image and description. There are some useful diagrams, e.g., those that outline the life cycle of a butterfly and where gasoline comes from. By contrast, there are some that confuse, such as a cross section of a house that has a detailed bathroom with no toilet and is missing the accouterments of a 21st-century home (it’s got a TV antenna!). While for the most part people are inclusively illustrated, one spread of watercraft draws heavily and cringeworthily on stereotype in its depictions of Indigenous people paddling, respectively, a canoe, a kayak, and a raft. While this is a nice book of labeled pictures, an “encyclopedia” it is not, often raising more questions than it answers: What’s a queen ant or a hydroelectric power station? The index cross-references some items but not all.

While the illustrations are often flawed and feel outdated, their overall boldness and simplicity make for a nice book of pictures—but not a meaningful or useful encyclopedia. (Nonfiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-908985-97-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Button Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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