Children may wish to compose nonets after delving into this unusual, entertaining collection.

NINE

A BOOK OF NONET POEMS

Hail the divine number nine!

Nine shines in this nonet anthology. A nonet is a nine-line poem about any subject and may rhyme but doesn’t have to. Heeding the syllables in a nonet’s lines is vital: The first line contains one syllable; each line thereafter adds one more in turn until the ninth line contains nine. However, this pattern can be reversed, and the offerings here reflect both counting schemes. Each nonet focuses on the number nine itself. “Before You Were Born” honors human gestation; “Nine Lives” salutes cats; “Play Ball!” refers to a baseball’s team’s nine players and the game’s nine innings. A few poems provide information: “The Little Rock Nine” nods to the landmark 1957 Arkansas school-integration effort; “Nonagon” introduces the nine-sided geometric shape; “Beethoven’s Ninth” highlights the composer’s last symphony. The anthology concludes with “The Whole Nine Yards,” a reminder that nine is the last one-digit numeral. As with many anthologies, the poems’ quality varies, though overall, they’re jaunty and read well. While most verses admirably demonstrate how cleverly poems can develop from strict adherence to form, some verses seem contrived in service to that principle. Colorful, lively illustrations depict a robustly diverse ensemble cast. Interesting backmatter adds an additional gloss on each poem and further celebrates the number nine.

Children may wish to compose nonets after delving into this unusual, entertaining collection. (Picture book/poetry. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62354-116-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness.

THE BRAIN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

An introduction to the lead guitar and vocalist for the Brainiacs—the human brain.

The brain (familiar to readers of Seluk’s “The Awkward Yeti” webcomic, which spun off the adult title Heart and Brain, 2015) looks like a dodgeball with arms and legs—pinkish, sturdy, and roundish, with a pair of square-framed spectacles bestowing an air of importance and hipness. Other organs of the body—tongue, lungs, stomach, muscle, and heart—are featured as members of the brain’s rock band (the verso of the dust jacket is a poster of the band). Seluk’s breezy, conversational prose and brightly colored, boldly outlined cartoon illustrations deliver basic information. The brain’s role in keeping the heart beating and other automatic functions, directing body movements, interpreting sights and sounds, remembering smells and tastes, and regulating sleep and hunger are all explained, prose augmented by dialogue balloons and information sidebars. Seluk points out, importantly, that feelings originate in the brain: “You can control how you react…but your feelings happen no matter what.” The parodied album covers on the front endpapers (including the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Green Day, Run DMC, Queen, Nirvana) will amuse parents—or at least grandparents—and the rear endpapers serve up band members’ clever social media and texting screenshots. Backmatter includes a glossary and further brain trivia but no resources or bibliography.

A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-16700-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Science at its best: informative and gross.

DO NOT LICK THIS BOOK

Why not? Because “IT’S FULL OF GERMS.”

Of course, Ben-Barak rightly notes, so is everything else—from your socks to the top of Mount Everest. Just to demonstrate, he invites readers to undertake an exploratory adventure (only partly imaginary): First touch a certain seemingly blank spot on the page to pick up a microbe named Min, then in turn touch teeth, shirt, and navel to pick up Rae, Dennis, and Jake. In the process, readers watch crews of other microbes digging cavities (“Hey kid, brush your teeth less”), spreading “lovely filth,” and chowing down on huge rafts of dead skin. For the illustrations, Frost places dialogue balloons and small googly-eyed cartoon blobs of diverse shape and color onto Rundgren’s photographs, taken using a scanning electron microscope, of the fantastically rugged surfaces of seemingly smooth paper, a tooth, textile fibers, and the jumbled crevasses in a belly button. The tour concludes with more formal introductions and profiles for Min and the others: E. coli, Streptococcus, Aspergillus niger, and Corynebacteria. “Where will you take Min tomorrow?” the author asks teasingly. Maybe the nearest bar of soap.

Science at its best: informative and gross. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17536-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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