EARTHRISE

APOLLO 8 AND THE PHOTO THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

A compelling look at the history of one of NASA’s most iconic photographs.

In 1968, at a time of worldwide instability, NASA’s Apollo 8 mission accomplished the historic feat of the first manned spacecraft not only to leave Earth’s orbit, but also to enter that of the moon. And from that most distant and alien of perspectives, the three white astronauts snapped a color photo of their planet Earth. Called Earthrise, the photograph stirred the imaginations of people around the globe as they looked at themselves for the first time as inhabitants of one world from over 220,000 miles away. Gladstone’s prose is factual but richly so, as he puts historical record and mission transcripts to effective use to recapture the amazement and unity inspired by this momentous first in space travel. Not to be outdone, Lundy’s illustrations are almost minimalist in their simple lines and shading and swathes of color that nonetheless provide intricate emotional detail, from the tension of mission control to the inky wonder of space to the exhilaration of the racially diverse public, including one young, brown-skinned space enthusiast in afro puffs. An understated but arresting double-page spread presents Earthrise as a visual climax even as a figurative hush falls over the narrative. Despite what feels like a slightly obvious attempt at relevance with not-so-subtle messages of unity in the face of global unrest, the book’s whole far outweighs the sum of its parts.

For any fan of Earth. (Nonfiction picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77147-316-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Despite minor bumps, a ride that’s worth returning to.

HOW TO CODE A ROLLERCOASTER

Pearl and her robot, Pascal, take their coding skills for a spin at the amusement park in this Girls Who Code picture book, a follow-up to How To Code a Sandcastle (2018).

The park has many rides to choose from, and Pearl has 10 tokens to last her the day. But her favorite ride, the Python roller coaster, looks busy. Pearl decides to do something else fun, using code concepts such as variables to keep track of the length of the line and her remaining tokens and a conditional statement to decide when to return to the Python. Throughout, computer science terms are defined crisply in the text and vividly illustrated in the pictures, which use images such as popcorn bags for variables and the Ferris wheel for loops (keeping track of ice cream flavors seems somewhat contrived). The backmatter explains these ideas more fully. Pascal’s too-literal interpretations of Pearl’s statements make for several amusing moments along the way. When Pearl runs short of tokens (a missed opportunity to talk about checking for more than one condition?), she’s undaunted by the disaster, taking readers on a fun hunt for a secret hidden password, in a nod to the importance of proper sequencing. Pearl has brown skin and black curls; others at the park have a variety of skin tones.

Despite minor bumps, a ride that’s worth returning to. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-425-29203-7

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Lovely illustrations wasted on this misguided project.

LUNAR NEW YEAR

From the Celebrate the World series

The Celebrate the World series spotlights Lunar New Year.

This board book blends expository text and first-person-plural narrative, introducing readers to the holiday. Chau’s distinctive, finely textured watercolor paintings add depth, transitioning smoothly from a grand cityscape to the dining room table, from fantasies of the past to dumplings of the present. The text attempts to provide a broad look at the subject, including other names for the celebration, related cosmology, and historical background, as well as a more-personal discussion of traditions and practices. Yet it’s never clear who the narrator is—while the narrative indicates the existence of some consistent, monolithic group who participates in specific rituals of celebration (“Before the new year celebrations begin, we clean our homes—and ourselves!”), the illustrations depict different people in every image. Indeed, observances of Lunar New Year are as diverse as the people who celebrate it, which neither the text nor the images—all of the people appear to be Asian—fully acknowledges. Also unclear is the book’s intended audience. With large blocks of explication on every spread, it is entirely unappealing for the board-book set, and the format may make it equally unattractive to an older, more appropriate audience. Still, readers may appreciate seeing an important celebration warmly and vibrantly portrayed.

Lovely illustrations wasted on this misguided project. (Board book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3303-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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