The right “stuff” for young readers who have wondered about the stars and about their place in space.

READ REVIEW

ONCE UPON A STAR

A POETIC JOURNEY THROUGH SPACE

The universe in a nutshell: “A mighty BOOM / a huge KERRANG / that scientists call / THE BIG BANG!”

Hernández’s semi-abstract illustrations are the stars of the show—bold visual statements founded on big shapes, dramatic silhouettes or contrasts, and deep-space fields through which swim clouds of stylized stars. In later scenes our local star seems almost lambent as it shines down on earthly flora and fauna. Carter’s metrics are less stellar, but his cosmology serves well enough as he takes young readers out to view the stars, then explains the explosive origins of space, time, and our very own sun, how planets formed, and how at last on Earth “life swam, crawled, flew.” Channeling Carl Sagan, he concludes “We’re from that star / that seems so far. / We’re made of stardust, / yes, we are. / So, what are you? / YOU’RE A STAR!” He rounds off his poetic flight by laying out the sun’s past and probable future in a list of factual “Sciencey Stuff” arranged as an acrostic. Three children, one white, two with different shades of brown skin, appear in the final scenes.

The right “stuff” for young readers who have wondered about the stars and about their place in space. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-57933-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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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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It’s not the most dramatic version, but it’s a visually effective and serviceable addition to the rapidly growing shelf of...

THE FIRST MEN WHO WENT TO THE MOON

A 50th-anniversary commemoration of the epochal Apollo 11 mission.

Modeling her account on “The House That Jack Built” (an unspoken, appropriate nod to President John F. Kennedy’s foundational role in the enterprise), Greene takes Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins from liftoff to post-splashdown ticker-tape parade. Side notes on some spreads and two pages of further facts with photographs at the end, all in smaller type, fill in select details about the mission and its historical context. The rhymed lines are fully cumulated only once, so there is some repetition but never enough to grow monotonous: “This is the Moon, a mysterious place, / a desolate land in the darkness of space, / far from Earth with oceans blue.” Also, the presentation of the text in just three or fewer lines per spread stretches out the narrative and gives Brundage latitude for both formal and informal group portraits of Apollo 11’s all-white crew, multiple glimpses of our planet and the moon at various heights, and, near the end, atmospheric (so to speak) views of the abandoned lander and boot prints in the lunar dust.

It’s not the most dramatic version, but it’s a visually effective and serviceable addition to the rapidly growing shelf of tributes to our space program’s high-water mark. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58536-412-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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