A solid invitation to find out more.

SMALL MATTERS

THE HIDDEN POWER OF THE UNSEEN

Sharks can swim speedily and birds can fly because of physical structures too minuscule to see.

Electron-microscope images accompany simple text observations about the importance of unseen, tiny attributes in the physiology of 11 animals: sea snail, shark, blue morpho butterfly, bird, snake, water strider, honeybee, cat, cicada, toucan, and gecko. (Specific species aren’t identified for the shark, bird, or snake.) Aspects of strength (tensile and hardness), speed, color, agility, and cleanliness and protection are attributed to fibers and bumps that are invisible to the eye but amazing at very high levels of magnification. Close-up, lower-magnification photos of each animal are also included. A photo of what is presumably a gecko’s foot, highly magnified, is one of the best, though it appears on an introductory page and not with the nanoscale microscopic image of the gecko’s bristly toes. The backmatter yields some good information and adds factual substance to this visual sampling of microscopic discoveries in biology—a paragraph of explanation for each creature expands on the earlier text; “nanoscale” is defined with an accompanying graph; and the scanning electron microscope is briefly described. Photos are attributed to stock libraries. The “wow” factor in seeing variations in animal adaptations revealed through electron microscopy is compelling.

A solid invitation to find out more. (Nonfiction. 4-9)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-7814-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard.

HELLO AUTUMN!

Rotner follows Hello Spring (2017) with this salute to the fall season.

Name a change seen in northern climes in fall, and Rotner likely covers it here, from plants, trees, and animals to the food we harvest: seeds are spread, the days grow shorter and cooler, the leaves change and fall (and are raked up and jumped in), some animals migrate, and many families celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving. As in the previous book, the photographs (presented in a variety of sizes and layouts, all clean) are the stars here, displaying both the myriad changes of the season and a multicultural array of children enjoying the outdoors in fall. These are set against white backgrounds that make the reddish-orange print pop. The text itself uses short sentences and some solid vocabulary (though “deep sleep” is used instead of “hibernate”) to teach readers the markers of autumn, though in the quest for simplicity, Rotner sacrifices some truth. In several cases, the addition of just a few words would have made the following oversimplified statements reflect reality: “Birds grow more feathers”; “Cranberries float and turn red.” Also, Rotner includes the statement “Bees store extra honey in their hives” on a page about animals going into deep sleep, implying that honeybees hibernate, which is false.

Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3869-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Informative yet optimistic, this cri du coeur from Planet Awesome deserves wide attention.

OUR PLANET! THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE EARTH

From the Our Universe series , Vol. 6

The sixth in McAnulty’s Our Universe series focuses on Earth’s human-caused problems, offering some family-level activities for mitigation.

Vivaciously narrated by “Planet Awesome,” the text establishes facts about how Earth’s location with regard to the sun allows life to flourish, the roles of the ocean and atmosphere, and the distinctions between weather and climate. McAnulty clearly explains how people have accelerated climate change “because so many human things need energy.” Soft-pedaling, she avoids overt indictment of fossil fuels: “Sometimes energy leads to dirty water, dirty land, and dirty air.” Dire changes are afoot: “Some land is flooding. Other land is too dry—and hot. YIKES! Not good.” “And when I’m in trouble, Earthlings are in trouble, too.” Litchfield’s engaging art adds important visual information where the perky text falls short. On one spread, a factory complex spews greenhouse gases in three plumes, each identified by the chemical symbols for carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Throughout, planet Earth is appealingly represented with animated facial features and arms—one green, one blue. The palette brightens and darkens in sync with the text’s respective messages of hope and alarm. Final pages introduce alternative energy sources—wind, hydro, solar, and “human power—that’s from your own two feet.” Lastly, Earth provides excellent ideas for hyperlocal change, from buying less new stuff to planting trees. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Informative yet optimistic, this cri du coeur from Planet Awesome deserves wide attention. (author’s note, numerical facts, atmospheric facts, ideas for action, sources) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-78249-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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