OVER AND UNDER THE RAINFOREST

A child-and-caregiver pair hike through the South American rainforest, observing animals in their natural habitats.

The “symphony of sound” up in the trees prompts the child narrator to ask what lives above. Tito answers that above them is “a whole hidden world” where monkeys, insects, and birds live. As they hike along the trail, each spread shows specific animals “up in the trees” and “down in the forest,” doing what they do best. Oropendolas “gurgle in low-swinging nests”; a parrot snake hunts frogs on the trail. The child and Tito climb to a hanging bridge that crosses the river; beneath them, crocodiles bask in the sun and an emerald basilisk skims the water’s surface while they walk “eye to eye with capuchin monkeys” swinging through branches. The afternoon brings rain and a snack of dried fruit. The evening brings new sounds to the forest as dark settles in and the child and Tito leave the last bridge, heading home, where Abuelita and a supper of arroz con pollo await. The colorful, matte illustrations alternate views of the ground, the sky, the river, and the treetops from various vantage points; close-ups and silhouettes of animals in action channel the mystery and magic of the natural world. Part outdoor adventure, part animal nonfiction book, this exciting blend will delight children interested in fact and fiction. Extensive endnotes offer more information about the animals. The only humans pictured are Tito and the narrator, both characters of color.

Draws you right in. (author’s note, further reading, sources) (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-6940-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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A captivating tale guaranteed to keep youngsters wide awake in wonder.

GOODNIGHT, ASTRONAUT

From childhood, an astronaut dreamed of adventurous exploration.

Famed NASA astronaut Kelly played imaginative games with his twin brother, Mark (also an astronaut), from the time they were kids, presaging both men’s future space careers by wearing cardboard-box helmets. Their mother supported their high-flying dreams at bedtime. Ever entranced by the sky, the brothers imagined aboveground adventures in the backyard treehouse and on a family cruise, where they fantasized about being weightless as the boat was tossed by the waves. In adulthood, Kelly undertook hardier journeys, and his dreams continued to spark his longings for space navigation: He steered Navy vessels and piloted jets; camped out in icy climates and explored the seas; and climbed Mount Everest. Kelly attained his astronaut goal by joining the crew of the space shuttle Discovery, then earned renown for his yearlong stint on the International Space Station. Though Kelly acknowledges home is best, he encourages readers to dream about having adventures; a charming concluding illustration features a brown-skinned girl dreaming of myriad possibilities. The engaging, gently poetic text describes the author’s ambitious, lifelong skyward trajectory and his stops along the way to space, helping youngsters understand what goes into astronaut training. Colorful, appealing illustrations capture Kelly’s fascinating odyssey, beginning in childhood, and the starry reaches of space. Scott and Mark Kelly present White; some background characters are people of color. The backmatter includes two pages of color photos. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 49.9% of actual size.)

A captivating tale guaranteed to keep youngsters wide awake in wonder. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6428-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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This charming star shines bright.

THE SUN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

A humorous introduction to our sun and the solar system.

Webcomic creator Seluk aquaints readers with the sun (sporting a sly grin and a cool pair of shades) and its position as both the literal and metaphorical star of the solar system. Readers are introduced to the planets’ general relationships to the sun before diving deeper into the Earth’s unique reliance on the sun: “It does a ton of important jobs for Earth. In fact, we wouldn’t be around without the Sun!” The book explores everything from the effects of Earth’s rotation on our planet’s temperatures, daylight, and seasons to the water cycle and photosynthesis with clear and friendly prose. The planets’ characterizations are silly and irreverent: Venus wears a visor, Saturn is a hula-hoop champ, and Jupiter desperately wants an autograph but pretends it’s for one of its moons. Speech-bubble asides and simple but expressive faces and arm postures add to the celestial bodies’ personalities. Bright colors, contrasting backgrounds, and bold lines are engaging but never overwhelming. Vocabulary words set in boldface are tied to a glossary in the back. Backmatter also includes a gossip-magazine–style spread (“Planets: They’re Just Like Us!”) and a “Did You Know” section that highlights ancient civilizations’ beliefs about the sun.

This charming star shines bright. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-16697-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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