Both important and breathtakingly beautiful.

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YOU ARE NEVER ALONE

We are all part of the vast universe, and many of its elements, large and small, are within us. It “showers [us] with gifts.”

The team that is responsible for previous works of philosophical science (You Are Stardust, 2012; Wild Ideas, 2015) takes on yet another huge concept. Beginning with water from rain that provides fresh drinking water and oxygen supplied by plants, then winding through the complex ecosystem that sustains and protects life on our planet, Kelsey provides examples and explanations of how we are all connected: to microorganisms, insects, algae, soil, and every living plant and creature, all of which affect everything in our bodies and everything we do. Children might find some of the scientific material hard to grasp, but it is all elegantly presented in soaring, vivid language that is not a bit condescending. The second-person address posits a singular reader, directly addressed in a conversational tone, and yet emphasizes that every individual has the same connections. Each bit of information is paired with appropriate scenes from Kim’s exquisite, intricate dioramas. Double-page spreads depict children of varying races flying, floating, even cavorting with animals and plants of land and sea in fantastical, colorful settings that also contain carefully constructed realistic elements. Endpapers present smaller, framed versions of the dioramas and invite readers to examine them closely.

Both important and breathtakingly beautiful. (Informational picture book. 5-12)

Pub Date: April 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77147-315-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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An inspiring call to action for all who care about our interconnected planet.

WE ARE WATER PROTECTORS

In this tribute to Native resilience, Indigenous author-and-illustrator team Lindstrom and Goade invite readers to stand up for environmental justice.

“Water is the first medicine,” a young, unnamed protagonist reflects as she wades into a river with her grandmother. “We come from water.” Stunning illustrations, rich in symbolism from the creators’ respective Ojibwe and Tlingit/Haida lineages, bring the dark-haired, brown-skinned child’s narrative to life as she recounts an Anishinaabe prophecy: One day, a “black snake” will terrorize her community and threaten water, animals, and land. “Now the black snake is here,” the narrator proclaims, connecting the legend to the present-day threat of oil pipelines being built on Native lands. Though its image is fearsome, younger audiences aren’t likely to be frightened due to Goade’s vibrant, uplifting focus on collective power. Awash in brilliant colors and atmospheric studies of light, the girl emphasizes the importance of protecting “those who cannot fight for themselves” and understanding that on Earth, “we are all related.” Themes of ancestry, community responsibility, and shared inheritance run throughout. Where the brave protagonist is depicted alongside her community, the illustrations feature people of all ages, skin tones, and clothing styles. Lindstrom’s powerful message includes non-Native and Native readers alike: “We are stewards of the Earth. We are water protectors.”

An inspiring call to action for all who care about our interconnected planet. (author’s note, glossary, illustrator’s note, Water Protector pledge) (Picture book. 5-12)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20355-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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Science at its best: informative and gross.

DO NOT LICK THIS BOOK

Why not? Because “IT’S FULL OF GERMS.”

Of course, Ben-Barak rightly notes, so is everything else—from your socks to the top of Mount Everest. Just to demonstrate, he invites readers to undertake an exploratory adventure (only partly imaginary): First touch a certain seemingly blank spot on the page to pick up a microbe named Min, then in turn touch teeth, shirt, and navel to pick up Rae, Dennis, and Jake. In the process, readers watch crews of other microbes digging cavities (“Hey kid, brush your teeth less”), spreading “lovely filth,” and chowing down on huge rafts of dead skin. For the illustrations, Frost places dialogue balloons and small googly-eyed cartoon blobs of diverse shape and color onto Rundgren’s photographs, taken using a scanning electron microscope, of the fantastically rugged surfaces of seemingly smooth paper, a tooth, textile fibers, and the jumbled crevasses in a belly button. The tour concludes with more formal introductions and profiles for Min and the others: E. coli, Streptococcus, Aspergillus niger, and Corynebacteria. “Where will you take Min tomorrow?” the author asks teasingly. Maybe the nearest bar of soap.

Science at its best: informative and gross. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17536-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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