Plant this one on your bookshelf.

PRETTY TRICKY

THE SNEAKY WAYS PLANTS SURVIVE

Over a dozen plants—each with an unusual adaptation in terms of defense, reproduction, or food supply—are presented in colorful double-page spreads with fascinating information.

A beautifully rendered table of contents features a passionflower vine winding across its aquamarine pages and indicates three chapters that divide plants into the categories mentioned above. The introduction, which sports a brilliantly colored flytrap against bright purple hues, is clear and concise, ending with this sentence: “Prepare to be surprised as you ‘leaf’ through the pages of this book!” Throughout, the text continues to be conversational and humorous, although liberal with rhetorical questions and exclamation points. Each short chapter begins with a double-page spread that mentions characteristics typical to most plants, an excellent segue into the atypical facts to come. For example, after a brief explanation of pollination, readers learn that snapdragons ensure that any creature sipping their nectar will also acquire pollen to take to the next blossom. How? Tiny flies Kaner calls “ ‘cheater’ insects” are not heavy enough to push down the lower “lip” and access nectar, but big, heavier bumblebees get access—and get covered with pollen to spread around, too. Readers are introduced to concepts including symbiosis and photosynthesis as well as the inspiration for Velcro. The layout is excellent, and the collages are extraordinary. For best results, start at the beginning, but read only one or two pages a day; there’s lots of information here.

Plant this one on your bookshelf. (sources) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77147-369-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

It’s nothing new in territory or angle, but it’s still a serviceable survey with reasonably durable moving parts.

THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF PLANET EARTH

Flaps, pull tabs, and pop-ups large and small enhance views of our planet’s inside, outside, atmosphere, biosphere, and geophysics.

It’s a hefty, high-speed tour through Earth’s features, climates, and natural resources, with compressed surveys of special topics on multileveled flaps and a spread on the history of life that is extended by a double-foldout wing. But even when teeming with small images of land forms, wildlife, or diverse groups of children and adults, Balicevic’s bright cartoon illustrations look relatively uncrowded. Although the quality of the paper engineering is uneven, the special effects add dramatic set pieces: Readers need to hold in place a humongous column of cumulonimbus clouds for it to reach its full extension; a volcano erupts in a gratifyingly large scale; and, on the plate-tectonics spread, a pull tab gives readers the opportunity to run the Indian Plate into the Eurasian one and see the Himalayas bulge up. A final spread showing resources, mostly renewable ones, being tapped ends with an appeal to protect “our only home.” All in all, it’s a likely alternative to Dougal Jerram’s Utterly Amazing Earth, illustrated by Dan Crisp and Molly Lattin (2017), being broader in scope and a bit more generous in its level of detail.

It’s nothing new in territory or angle, but it’s still a serviceable survey with reasonably durable moving parts. (Informational novelty. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 979-1-02760-562-0

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more