Kids interested in cities and transport as well as fans of Richard Scarry–like busyness will be busy with this book for many...

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THE WAY DOWNTOWN

ADVENTURES IN PUBLIC TRANSIT

Zoom is an imaginary, probably North American city with a diverse population and many public-transportation options.

Among its inhabitants and visitors are: four didgeridoo-playing street-performing siblings called the Zanies; Robbie, a first-grade photographer visiting his aunt; Agent Rybka, a white spy; Boris, a guide dog who leads his blind friend, Guy; and scientist Dr. Brody. Agent Rybka, Dr. Brody, and Guy all appear to be white; the Zanies and Robbie have brown skin. The named characters take various forms of transportation to their destination: Great Park. Dr. Brody takes a ferry to work with bike rides bookending the short voyage. Bike lanes and the bike-sharing system are explained. Robbie and his aunt take the bus to the subway. Agent Rybka, eluding people, takes an unusual route involving railroad trains and subways. The Zanies use their unicycles and the subway. They explain tickets and transit passes. Boris and Guy ride the light rail (defined in the extensive glossary), which has a Braille schedule. Everyone arrives in the park, including two strange creatures discovered by Dr. Brody in China. Very busy pen-and-ink–and-digital illustrations in a naïve style include maps, flow charts showing each character’s itinerary, cartoon panels (with speech balloons), and large double-page spreads. Lots of labeling and funny details keep readers poring over the pictures and make this book best for small groups or individual use. The text sometimes attempts too much in its complicated interweaving of human stories and transportation systems, but there’s much useful information to be absorbed.

Kids interested in cities and transport as well as fans of Richard Scarry–like busyness will be busy with this book for many readings. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77138-552-7

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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Young makers will find the Scrap Pack’s enthusiasm infectious, but even as broad overviews, these offer at best incomplete...

HOW TO BUILD A CAR

From the Technical Tales series

A mouse, a bird, and a junkyard frog assemble a car from the ground up—cluing in readers who may be a bit vague on what’s beneath all those hoods…or at least what used to be.

Enlisting his green buddy Hank to supply the parts and feathered Phoebe to draw up the plans, Eli, “king of crazy ideas,” sees his latest project grow from a frame and some miscellaneous loose parts to a nifty blue convertible with a classic 1950s look. At each stage, Sodomka supplies clearly drawn angled or cutaway views with dozens of major components labeled, from “steering knuckle bracket” to “tie rod” and “ball joint.” The gas tank is labeled but seems to be missing, though, and readers who want to know what a “differential” actually does or the purpose of the “indicator switch” are out of luck. Lacey’s claim that an engine “is like the brain of the car” doesn’t bear close examination, either. Moreover, the finished auto isn’t much like most modern cars, as it has no electronic elements, for instance, and is powered by a three-cylinder engine (misleadingly billed as “regular”) quaintly fed by a long-obsolescent carburetor. With an auto under their belts (and with similar oversimplification), Eli’s “Scrap Pack” goes on to an even more ambitious enterprise in How to Build a Plane. In both volumes, closer looks at selected systems or related topics follow the storyline’s happy conclusion, and each broad trial-and-error step in the construction is recapped at the end.

Young makers will find the Scrap Pack’s enthusiasm infectious, but even as broad overviews, these offer at best incomplete pictures. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63322-041-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Quarto

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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