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Astronomy: factual, historical, and inspirational.

From cave families to space families, humans have been intrigued by Halley’s comet.

With narration in a large type, the comet tells its story as it is viewed from Earth through many centuries. In a smaller font, historical sightings are recounted. Early ones include Greeks in 466 B.C.E. and Arabs in 989 C.E. Chinese, Babylonians, Italians, and Germans have recorded and painted it. The comet has been variously described as “hairy” or “bushy” or “a great sword of flame.” It was stitched into the Bayeux Tapestry. And in 1705, Sir Edmond Halley wrote a treatise predicting its return. Today, space probes allow humankind to study it in the greatest detail. The voice of the comet as narrator is scientific, noting that it is “neither good nor bad—a part of nature.” The text is accompanied by full-page paintings that capture the beautiful vastness of the sky along with panels that portray the intensity and fascination of the scientists, artists, and ordinary folk whose eyes were drawn to the heavens. Some evoke medieval paintings in design and celestial blue color. Most eye-catching of all is the cover illustration, which is repeated at the end of the book. In it, a brown-skinned child, framed by a telescopic lens, is dressed in a futuristically intriguing hooded onesie as they gaze intently at the heavens. A dreamer? A scientist? Why not both.

Astronomy: factual, historical, and inspirational. (author’s note, sources) (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77147-371-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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1001 BEES

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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An in-depth and visually pleasing look at one of the most fundamental forces in the universe.

An introduction to gravity.

The book opens with the most iconic demonstration of gravity, an apple falling. Throughout, Herz tackles both huge concepts—how gravity compresses atoms to form stars and how black holes pull all kinds of matter toward them—and more concrete ones: how gravity allows you to jump up and then come back down to the ground. Gravity narrates in spare yet lyrical verse, explaining how it creates planets and compresses atoms and comparing itself to a hug. “My embrace is tight enough that you don’t float like a balloon, but loose enough that you can run and leap and play.” Gravity personifies itself at times: “I am stubborn—the bigger things are, the harder I pull.” Beautiful illustrations depict swirling planets and black holes alongside racially diverse children playing, running, and jumping, all thanks to gravity. Thorough backmatter discusses how Sir Isaac Newton discovered gravity and explains Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. While at times Herz’s explanations may be a bit too technical for some readers, burgeoning scientists will be drawn in.

An in-depth and visually pleasing look at one of the most fundamental forces in the universe. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 15, 2024

ISBN: 9781668936849

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2024

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