THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS AND THE CLIMATE CHALLENGE

Flamboyant as ever, the indefatigable Ms. Frizzle shepherds her young charges on a globe-spanning tour that starts in the melting Arctic, ends back in a greener classroom and in between lays out the process and hazards of the greenhouse effect before going into eco-friendly, energy-saving technological and lifestyle changes. As usual, Degen festoons his busy pictures with the Friz’s students taking it all in—here donning “microscope goggles” to check out CO2 molecules, riding sunbeams down to Earth, flying over leaky homes and factories, and making comments (“By the time we grow up...” / “... it may be called Glacier-LESS National Park,” exclaim two students, while gesturing to an icy 1932 image juxtaposed against a barren one from today). Flutters of one- or two-sentence handwritten sidebars in the form of the students’ written reports provide further information. It’s a tested formula that’s still as effective as ever for cluing in younger readers with a mix of instruction and droll side remarks. The bus isn’t even close to running out of gas yet—particularly as it’s now a hybrid. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-590-10826-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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HELLO, HARVEST MOON

As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so...

TOUCH THE EARTH

From the Julian Lennon White Feather Flier Adventure series , Vol. 1

A pro bono Twinkie of a book invites readers to fly off in a magic plane to bring clean water to our planet’s oceans, deserts, and brown children.

Following a confusingly phrased suggestion beneath a soft-focus world map to “touch the Earth. Now touch where you live,” a shake of the volume transforms it into a plane with eyes and feathered wings that flies with the press of a flat, gray “button” painted onto the page. Pressing like buttons along the journey releases a gush of fresh water from the ground—and later, illogically, provides a filtration device that changes water “from yucky to clean”—for thirsty groups of smiling, brown-skinned people. At other stops, a tap on the button will “help irrigate the desert,” and touching floating bottles and other debris in the ocean supposedly makes it all disappear so the fish can return. The 20 children Coh places on a globe toward the end are varied of skin tone, but three of the four young saviors she plants in the flier’s cockpit as audience stand-ins are white. The closing poem isn’t so openly parochial, though it seldom rises above vague feel-good sentiments: “Love the Earth, the moon and sun. / All the children can be one.”

“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so easy to clean the place up and give everyone a drink? (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-2083-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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