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

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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

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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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