The approach has promise, but there’s not enough focus on accuracy to carry the payload.

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SPACE INFOGRAPHICS

From the Infographics series

An introduction to the solar system in charts, graphics, and comparisons.

The heavily stylized graphics sow more confusion than insight from the beginning, which is a planetary lineup in which Uranus is depicted as smaller than Mars and one of two versions of Earth as the size of Jupiter. Throughout, the visuals are a mix of images that are not to scale, confusingly marked, or just filler—like the 10 solid dots intended to represent Jupiter’s 9.8-hour rotation that show no change other than a nearly imperceptible shift from pale peach to light orange. With like obscurity, the accompanying captions deliver such factoids as “The Solar System is shaped like an egg,” and Mars “is approximately 6 times smaller than Earth.” The co-published Weather Infographics does no better: the average temperature of lightning (20,000 C) is visualized as an arbitrary 100 tiny ovens (four of which are inexplicably printed in red); and a sample weather forecast is a set of dim, tiny icons on a cellphone, only one of which is identified. Both volumes close with poorly designed science activities (“At night time, go outside and look for three bright stars that are almost in a straight line”).

The approach has promise, but there’s not enough focus on accuracy to carry the payload. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-78637-080-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Booklife/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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A floral fantasia for casual browsers as well as budding botanists.

THE BIG BOOK OF BLOOMS

Spirited illustrations brighten a large-format introduction to flowers and their pollinators.

Showing a less Eurocentric outlook than in his Big Book of Birds (2019), Zommer employs agile brushwork and a fondness for graceful lines and bright colors to bring to life bustling bouquets from a range of habitats, from rainforest to desert. Often switching from horizontal to vertical orientations, the topical spreads progress from overviews of major floral families and broad looks at plant anatomy and reproduction to close-ups of select flora—roses and tulips to Venus flytraps and stinking flowers. The book then closes with a shoutout to the conservators and other workers at Kew Gardens (this is a British import) and quick suggestions for young balcony or windowsill gardeners. In most of the low-angled scenes, fancifully drawn avian or insect pollinators with human eyes hover around all the large, luscious blooms, as do one- or two-sentence comments that generally add cogent observations or insights: “All parts of the deadly nightshade plant contain poison. It has been used to poison famous emperors, kings and warriors throughout history.” (Confusingly for the audience, the accurate but limited assertion that bees “often visit blue or purple flowers” appears to be contradicted by an adjacent view of several zeroing in on a yellow toadflax.) Human figures, or, in one scene, hands, are depicted in a variety of sizes, shapes, and skin colors.

A floral fantasia for casual browsers as well as budding botanists. (glossary, index) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-500-65199-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A bubble-gum crowd pleaser with wide audience appeal.

OLGA AND THE SMELLY THING FROM NOWHERE

From the Olga series , Vol. 1

A young girl who prefers science to people discovers an adorable and smelly little creature.

With an inquisitive mind and a dark teardrop-shaped swoop of hair, Olga may not have many friends, but she loves animals and thinks even their "farts are cute." She studies them and carefully transcribes her observations; she hopes someday to hang out with Jane Goodall. When she hears a scary rumble in her trash can, Olga discovers Meh, a pudgy, smelly creature that she describes as a "cross between an inflated hamster and a potato drawn by a three-year-old." Like any good scientist-in-training, she observes Meh, trying to discern his habits and his diet. When Meh goes missing, Olga must recruit actual people to help her find him—including two pop-star–obsessed girls she calls "The Lalas," a friendly boy with a tall scribble of hair and an incontinent dog, a punk-rock librarian, and a goofy but helpful shopkeeper. Gravel's tale is a visually interesting mix of illustration and story, punctuated by numerous lists, comic panels, and cartoon diagrams and led by a smart female protagonist. Covering everything from zoology to poop jokes, Gravel has painted her tale with a broad brush that should render this an easy sell to most young readers. The human characters all have paper-white skin, and there is no other cueing of racial difference.

A bubble-gum crowd pleaser with wide audience appeal. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-235126-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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