In a spare text, this Japanese import explores the functions, properties, and inherent contradictions of water.

Two small humans leave home and set out in a rowboat. Water, reads the narration of this follow-up to Every Color of Light (2020), is “only oxygen and hydrogen, simple as can be,” yet it sustains life. This statement is accompanied by a full-bleed spread in which readers see the two humans row along a wave of stars next to the Earth. Water, however, is also paradoxical in nature: “It has no color, but can be any color,” for instance. It has no shape but can take on various shapes, and you can touch it but not actually hold it. The musings are sometimes metaphorical (“like the mother of us all, it creates life”) and often ethereal. In a dramatic shift in tone, the narration then states: “It is the pee of life.” Here, the voice, which has hitherto spoken of you and we, shifts to a first-person-singular one, and the narrator acknowledges a child asking if water is the “pee-pee of the gods.” (This will undoubtedly delight the youngest of readers.) Dense textures, a palette with a stunning use of light, and panoramic landscapes establish a sweeping, grandiose tone that pays its respects to Mother Nature. Resplendent yellows and rich shades of blues and greens are the stars of the show. The book closes on a metafictive note: After referencing the child who asks about gods, the narrator states on the final page: “And then, I wrote this poem.” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Wondrous. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-59270-357-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A quick flight but a blast from first to last.


From the Everything Awesome About… series

A charged-up roundup of astro-facts.

Having previously explored everything awesome about both dinosaurs (2019) and sharks (2020), Lowery now heads out along a well-traveled route, taking readers from the Big Bang through a planet-by-planet tour of the solar system and then through a selection of space-exploration highlights. The survey isn’t unique, but Lowery does pour on the gosh-wow by filling each hand-lettered, poster-style spread with emphatic colors and graphics. He also goes for the awesome in his selection of facts—so that readers get nothing about Newton’s laws of motion, for instance, but will come away knowing that just 65 years separate the Wright brothers’ flight and the first moon landing. They’ll also learn that space is silent but smells like burned steak (according to astronaut Chris Hadfield), that thanks to microgravity no one snores on the International Space Station, and that Buzz Aldrin was the first man on the moon…to use the bathroom. And, along with a set of forgettable space jokes (OK, one: “Why did the carnivore eat the shooting star?” “Because it was meteor”), the backmatter features drawing instructions for budding space artists and a short but choice reading list. Nods to Katherine Johnson and NASA’s other African American “computers” as well as astronomer Vera Rubin give women a solid presence in the otherwise male and largely White cast of humans. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A quick flight but a blast from first to last. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-35974-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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