Despite its flaws, an intriguing stab at bringing people of the world closer.

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HELLO WORLD

An attractive lift-the-flap book encourages children to learn about the world and its languages.

The book is positively festooned with flaps of varying sizes placed on maps. Most small flaps present the word for “hello” in the country or region it is placed upon; beneath are its phonetic pronunciation, the language name, and the number of speakers. Many double-page spreads are continental maps. The first spread features a world map with 10 widely spoken languages labeled, and the last shows this map again, with “good-bye” in these same languages along with several more beneath two large flaps. Unfortunately, the maps don’t include country names. Some places where languages matter are omitted; for example, the country of Belgium, with its French and Flemish speakers, doesn’t appear. There is a chart with eight major languages spoken in the U.S. There is no indication that English is the official language of Ghana and Nigeria, although the flap on Mali says that French is the official language in 25 African countries. Observant readers can search the continental maps for small people, generally pictured in traditional clothing with the retro look of old children’s atlases; the United States is represented by a white football player and Canada by a white voyageur, a white lumberjack, and a parka-clad Inuk.

Despite its flaws, an intriguing stab at bringing people of the world closer. (Informational novelty book. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-944530-00-6

Page Count: 16

Publisher: 360 Degrees

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

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Thought-provoking and charming.

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THE WILD ROBOT

A sophisticated robot—with the capacity to use senses of sight, hearing, and smell—is washed to shore on an island, the only robot survivor of a cargo of 500.

When otters play with her protective packaging, the robot is accidently activated. Roz, though without emotions, is intelligent and versatile. She can observe and learn in service of both her survival and her principle function: to help. Brown links these basic functions to the kind of evolution Roz undergoes as she figures out how to stay dry and intact in her wild environment—not easy, with pine cones and poop dropping from above, stormy weather, and a family of cranky bears. She learns to understand and eventually speak the language of the wild creatures (each species with its different “accent”). An accident leaves her the sole protector of a baby goose, and Roz must ask other creatures for help to shelter and feed the gosling. Roz’s growing connection with her environment is sweetly funny, reminiscent of Randall Jarrell’s The Animal Family. At every moment Roz’s actions seem plausible and logical yet surprisingly full of something like feeling. Robot hunters with guns figure into the climax of the story as the outside world intrudes. While the end to Roz’s benign and wild life is startling and violent, Brown leaves Roz and her companions—and readers—with hope.

Thought-provoking and charming. (Science fiction/fantasy. 7-11)

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-38199-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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A floral fantasia for casual browsers as well as budding botanists.

THE BIG BOOK OF BLOOMS

Spirited illustrations brighten a large-format introduction to flowers and their pollinators.

Showing a less Eurocentric outlook than in his Big Book of Birds (2019), Zommer employs agile brushwork and a fondness for graceful lines and bright colors to bring to life bustling bouquets from a range of habitats, from rainforest to desert. Often switching from horizontal to vertical orientations, the topical spreads progress from overviews of major floral families and broad looks at plant anatomy and reproduction to close-ups of select flora—roses and tulips to Venus flytraps and stinking flowers. The book then closes with a shoutout to the conservators and other workers at Kew Gardens (this is a British import) and quick suggestions for young balcony or windowsill gardeners. In most of the low-angled scenes, fancifully drawn avian or insect pollinators with human eyes hover around all the large, luscious blooms, as do one- or two-sentence comments that generally add cogent observations or insights: “All parts of the deadly nightshade plant contain poison. It has been used to poison famous emperors, kings and warriors throughout history.” (Confusingly for the audience, the accurate but limited assertion that bees “often visit blue or purple flowers” appears to be contradicted by an adjacent view of several zeroing in on a yellow toadflax.) Human figures, or, in one scene, hands, are depicted in a variety of sizes, shapes, and skin colors.

A floral fantasia for casual browsers as well as budding botanists. (glossary, index) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-500-65199-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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