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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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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A lovely 20th-anniversary tribute to the towers and all who perished—and survived.

SURVIVOR TREE

A remarkable tree stands where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once soared.

Through simple, tender text, readers learn the life-affirming story of a Callery pear tree that grew and today still flourishes “at the foot of the towers.” The author eloquently describes the pre-9/11 life of the “Survivor Tree” and its heartening, nearly decadelong journey to renewal following its recovery from the wreckage of the towers’ destruction. By tracking the tree’s journey through the natural cycle of seasonal changes and colors after it was found beneath “the blackened remains,” she tells how, after replanting and with loving care (at a nursery in the Bronx), the tree managed miraculously to flourish again. Retransplanted at the Sept. 11 memorial, it valiantly stands today, a symbol of new life and resilience. Hazy, delicate watercolor-and–colored pencil artwork powerfully traces the tree’s existence before and after the towers’ collapse; early pages include several snapshotlike insets capturing people enjoying the outdoors through the seasons. Scenes depicting the towers’ ruins are aptly somber yet hopeful, as they show the crushed tree still defiantly alive. The vivid changes that new seasons introduce are lovingly presented, reminding readers that life unceasingly renews itself. Many paintings are cast in a rosy glow, symbolizing that even the worst disasters can bring forth hope. People depicted are racially diverse. Backmatter material includes additional facts about the tree.

A lovely 20th-anniversary tribute to the towers and all who perished—and survived. (author's note, artist's note) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-48767-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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