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From the Big Words series , Vol. 12

A book sure to fly off shelves and into children’s hands.

Astronaut Ellen Ochoa reaches for the stars.

Though young Ellen is transfixed by images of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, options for women were limited. Differences between her parents (her father, the son of Mexican immigrants, wouldn’t speak Spanish at home; her mother hired a neighbor to teach the children Spanish) hint at their eventual divorce. Ellen and her mother love learning; she credits her mother for her own impressive academic achievements. Following college, Ellen works as an engineer; in 1978, the astronaut program decides to accept women and people of color, and two years later, she applies and embarks on several space missions. She eventually becomes the first Latine and second woman director of the Johnson Space Center. Her perseverance in the face of setbacks and reliance on teamwork come through clearly. The writing is excellent: Essential aspects of astronaut qualifications, training, and experience are described in clear detail, such as the feeling of G-force at takeoff. Brief quotations in a red font let us hear Ellen’s voice. The presence of her flute in both text and images reflects the importance of music to her. Brilliant, sure-handed gouache illustrations add even more vivid life to the well-paced text. Swaths of color, varied blues balancing bright orange-yellows, intensify the realistic images, and frequent changes of perspective and layout will hold readers’ attention. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A book sure to fly off shelves and into children’s hands. (author’s and illustrator’s notes, chronology, selected bibliography) (Picture-book biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2023

ISBN: 9780759554948

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023

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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 Over and Under series

More thoughtful, sometimes exhilarating encounters with nature.

In a new entry in the Over and Under series, a paddleboarder glimpses humpback whales leaping, floats over a populous kelp forest, and explores life on a beach and in a tide pool.

In this tale inspired by Messner’s experiences in Monterey Bay in California, a young tan-skinned narrator, along with their light-skinned mom and tan-skinned dad, observes in quiet, lyrical language sights and sounds above and below the sea’s serene surface. Switching perspectives and angles of view and often leaving the family’s red paddleboards just tiny dots bobbing on distant swells, Neal’s broad seascapes depict in precise detail bat stars and anchovies, kelp bass, and sea otters going about their business amid rocky formations and the swaying fronds of kelp…and, further out, graceful moon jellies and—thrillingly—massive whales in open waters beneath gliding pelicans and other shorebirds. After returning to the beach at day’s end to search for shells and to spot anemones and decorator crabs, the child ends with nighttime dreams of stars in the sky meeting stars in the sea. Appended nature notes on kelp and 21 other types of sealife fill in details about patterns and relationships in this rich ecosystem. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

More thoughtful, sometimes exhilarating encounters with nature. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-79720-347-8

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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