A dismal flight, crashing and burning almost before it leaves the runway.

READ REVIEW

MY FIRST ATLAS OF THE 50 STATES

A west-to-east flyover of the 50 states, noting select cities, flora, fauna, natural wonders, and tourist destinations.

It is, at best, a banal overview. Beth’s commentary ranges from statements like “[Alabama] is shaped like a rectangle and includes many different types of land” (Tennessee likewise “has many different areas”) to a clumsily phrased—not to mention outrageously coded—observation that Massachusetts “is a modern state with a diverse population in Boston and rural towns in the western half of the state.” She also incorrectly claims that New York was once “New Netherlands” and—perhaps to avoid even using the word “climate”—defines “biome” as “a mixture of the weather, plants, and animals found in a place.” Along with a handful of cities and occasional rivers, Cramb scatters light assortments of small animals, items, or natural features over flat, monochromatic full-page or double-page–spread portraits of each state. Many of these are repetitive (the same moose poses in Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire, for instance) or generic, and some, such as a bowl of cereal labeled “GM crops” in Minnesota and a harp representing “harp music” in Mississippi (“Home to the famous Mississippi River”), will add nothing to any reader’s understanding of anything. Younger armchair tourists and prospective road-trippers will find more reliably rewarding itineraries aplenty, led by Dan Yaccarino’s Go, Go America (2008) and Mark Teague’s LaRue Across America (2011).

A dismal flight, crashing and burning almost before it leaves the runway. (index) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4289-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: QEB Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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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