A rib-tickling gallery, anything but dry.

READ REVIEW

BOOK OF BONES

10 RECORD-BREAKING ANIMALS

The inside stories on 10 creatures who can lay claim to bone-y extremes.

Framed as a “Who am I?” guessing game, the illustrations alternate simplified white skeletons on solid black backgrounds on rectos with, on those pages’ versos, painted views of the fleshed-out creatures featuring invisible but raised bones that can be felt. In accompanying clues and narratives in the voices of the creatures, Balkan makes much use of colorful comparisons and atypical but revealing units of measure: “Not counting my tail,” the Etruscan shrew (smallest bones) notes, “my SKELETON is the size of a paperclip and weighs less than a single raisin!” Likewise, thanks to having the largest mandible (i.e., bone of any sort), a blue whale boasts “I could fit one hundred of your friends on my tongue.” (“But don’t worry. I don’t eat humans.”) The author makes no bones about playing fast and loose with the premise, admitting that some “records” are speculative—which bird has the lightest bones? “Let’s not quibble,” responds the peregrine falcon—and slipping in a moot claim that the hammerhead shark has the “fewest bones” because its skeleton isn’t bone at all but cartilage. Still, as she points out at beginning and end, all of the bones here have human equivalents, and that connection should give both casual browsers and budding naturalists plenty to gnaw on.

A rib-tickling gallery, anything but dry. (bibliography) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7148-7512-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Phaidon

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad.

THE BIG BEYOND

THE STORY OF SPACE TRAVEL

A capsule history of space exploration, from early stargazing to probes roaming the surface of Mars.

In loosely rhymed couplets Carter’s high-speed account zooms past the inventions of constellations, telescopes, and flying machines to the launches of Sputnik I, the “Saturn Five” (spelled out, probably, to facilitate the rhyme) that put men on the moon, and later probes. He caps it all with an enticing suggestion: “We’ll need an astronaut (or two)— / so what do you think? Could it be YOU?” Cushley lines up a notably diverse array of prospective young space travelers for this finish, but anachronistic earlier views of a dark-skinned astronaut floating in orbit opposite poetic references to the dogs, cats, and other animals sent into space in the 1950s and a model of the space shuttle on a shelf next to a line of viewers watching the televised moon landing in 1969 show no great regard for verisimilitude. Also, his full-page opening picture of the Challenger, its ports painted to look like a smiley face, just moments before it blew up is a decidedly odd choice to illustrate the poem’s opening countdown. As with his cosmological lyric Once upon a Star (2018, illustrated by Mar Hernández), the poet closes with a page of further facts arranged as an acrostic.

Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68010-147-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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It’s not the most dramatic version, but it’s a visually effective and serviceable addition to the rapidly growing shelf of...

THE FIRST MEN WHO WENT TO THE MOON

A 50th-anniversary commemoration of the epochal Apollo 11 mission.

Modeling her account on “The House That Jack Built” (an unspoken, appropriate nod to President John F. Kennedy’s foundational role in the enterprise), Greene takes Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins from liftoff to post-splashdown ticker-tape parade. Side notes on some spreads and two pages of further facts with photographs at the end, all in smaller type, fill in select details about the mission and its historical context. The rhymed lines are fully cumulated only once, so there is some repetition but never enough to grow monotonous: “This is the Moon, a mysterious place, / a desolate land in the darkness of space, / far from Earth with oceans blue.” Also, the presentation of the text in just three or fewer lines per spread stretches out the narrative and gives Brundage latitude for both formal and informal group portraits of Apollo 11’s all-white crew, multiple glimpses of our planet and the moon at various heights, and, near the end, atmospheric (so to speak) views of the abandoned lander and boot prints in the lunar dust.

It’s not the most dramatic version, but it’s a visually effective and serviceable addition to the rapidly growing shelf of tributes to our space program’s high-water mark. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58536-412-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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