A real browsers’ buffet, though everything on the menu is appetizer sized.

FACTOPIA!

FOLLOW THE TRAIL OF 400 FACTS...

Free association rules in this gathering of hundreds of facts about science, technology, and the natural world.

Strung along a single long, fine dotted line that meanders irregularly across each page from first to last, the one- or two-sentence factoids and observations veer from topic to topic but are linked by a key word or concept. The fact, for instance, that a rectangle has four sides leads to the note that there are four species of giraffe, then to the information that a group of giraffes is a “tower,” that the Eiffel Tower gets 60 tons of paint slapped on it every seven years, that cave artists added the mineral mica to their paint, that fluoride is a mineral, and so on and on. As one way to vary the pace of the onslaught of trivia, the line occasionally forks to send readers to a related sequence on another page, and as another, the illustrations mix bright stock photos and Smith’s comical cartoon figures in a broad range of sizes. Readers with attention spans on the short side may indeed find plenty of, as Hale promises, “mind-blowing, wow-worthy and crazily cool” facts, but the arbitrary ordering will quickly lead to informational overload with any sustained exposure. Alas, the “FACTopians” provide no sources beyond a slew of unidentified URLs at the end—to the various resources’ homepages, to boot, so would-be researchers who go to usgs.gov, for example, will be hard-pressed to find out exactly what information was gleaned from there.

A real browsers’ buffet, though everything on the menu is appetizer sized. (Nonfiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-912920-71-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Britannica Books

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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It’s nothing new in territory or angle, but it’s still a serviceable survey with reasonably durable moving parts.

THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF PLANET EARTH

Flaps, pull tabs, and pop-ups large and small enhance views of our planet’s inside, outside, atmosphere, biosphere, and geophysics.

It’s a hefty, high-speed tour through Earth’s features, climates, and natural resources, with compressed surveys of special topics on multileveled flaps and a spread on the history of life that is extended by a double-foldout wing. But even when teeming with small images of land forms, wildlife, or diverse groups of children and adults, Balicevic’s bright cartoon illustrations look relatively uncrowded. Although the quality of the paper engineering is uneven, the special effects add dramatic set pieces: Readers need to hold in place a humongous column of cumulonimbus clouds for it to reach its full extension; a volcano erupts in a gratifyingly large scale; and, on the plate-tectonics spread, a pull tab gives readers the opportunity to run the Indian Plate into the Eurasian one and see the Himalayas bulge up. A final spread showing resources, mostly renewable ones, being tapped ends with an appeal to protect “our only home.” All in all, it’s a likely alternative to Dougal Jerram’s Utterly Amazing Earth, illustrated by Dan Crisp and Molly Lattin (2017), being broader in scope and a bit more generous in its level of detail.

It’s nothing new in territory or angle, but it’s still a serviceable survey with reasonably durable moving parts. (Informational novelty. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 979-1-02760-562-0

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity

THE CAT MAN OF ALEPPO

When the war comes to Syria, many flee, but Alaa stays in his beloved city, Aleppo, where he continues to work as an ambulance driver and helps the wounded to safety.

Day after day, he misses his family and friends who have left, wondering where they are and how they are doing. His neighborhood empties—except for cats! However, these cats are affected by the conflict too; they’re left behind with shelters destroyed and food and water stringently limited. Alaa, who has a big heart, starts taking care of them using the little money he has. The love between man and cats multiplies, and many people from around the world step up to help. Soon, the cats of Aleppo get a pleasant shelter set in a courtyard. However, Alaa does not stop there and goes on to help other animals and more people, spreading joy, love, and hope. Based on a true story, this picture book is distinctive for its engaging narrative and impeccable illustrations. It is also enriched with notes from Alaa himself (the real one) as well as the authors and illustrator. The often-dramatic images offer a glimpse of the city prior to the conflict and a window on the real people who experience war and try to survive and help others around them.

A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity . (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1378-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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