HEART ON PLUTO

An interplanetary lovefest with sprinkles of astro-fact embedded in the goo.

Greetings from the New Horizons space probe—which has a big surprise to share about the dwarf planet Pluto.

Giveaway title notwithstanding, the personified probe does a good job setting up the climactic revelation with an account of its long, long journey past Jupiter and the other outer planets and a simple introduction to Pluto’s changing official status. Upon arrival the narrator burbles, “I made it!” and sends an image of the huge, heart-shaped nitrogen lake that is Pluto’s most prominent physical feature back to Earth, “It’s so cute!” Ross, in contrast to his realization of the dusty setting of Sara Schonfeld’s Birthday on Mars (2019), gives the encounter a warm and informal air by rendering the planets and probe with spongy surfaces, as if they were constructed out of blocks of colored foam, and the heart with sharp, nearly symmetrical borders so that it looks cut out and pasted onto Pluto’s surface. Though Saturn is tilted in an early view he does depict the planet with rings seen edge on in a later one, which may confuse some viewers. Also, though Jones closes with a bulleted fact list, he goes for mush over wonder at the end with multiple exclamations about how Pluto loves us, and Earth loves it back. Human figures are diverse throughout; one classroom group includes a child wearing a hijab.

An interplanetary lovefest with sprinkles of astro-fact embedded in the goo. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09629-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

TOUCH THE EARTH

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

“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...

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. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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