A bit behind the times but nevertheless a sturdy addition to a venerable series, filling in a ubiquitous device’s historical...

PHONES KEEP US CONNECTED

From the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science series

A basic explanation for younger children who wonder how telephones work and how they were invented.

Zoehfeld begins by describing how sound waves work (tucking in instructions for making a string telephone), then goes on to the invention of telegraphs and Morse code, followed by close looks at Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone and Thomas Edison’s improvements to it. She then traces the development of wireless networks and cellphones and ends by inviting readers to think about what they wish future phones might be able to do. Suggestions for experiments to perform with the string phones readers (of course) made earlier on can be found in the backmatter along with a glossary and a short timeline of phone history. Along with labeled views of early devices and their insides, Nowowiejska adds both cartoon portraits of early inventors and a racially diverse cast of modern children (including one in a wheelchair and several with glasses). Oddly, although a child is pictured on a smartphone in an opening sequence, the author ends her discourse before the development of today’s telephony, and the timeline cuts off with the first portable phones in 1973.

A bit behind the times but nevertheless a sturdy addition to a venerable series, filling in a ubiquitous device’s historical and technological background. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-238668-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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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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Hurray for the underdog.

PLUTO GETS THE CALL

Heart (-shaped surface feature) literally broken by its demotion from planet status, Pluto glumly conducts readers on a tour of the solar system.

You’d be bummed, too. Angrily rejecting the suggestions of “mean scientists” from Earth that “ice dwarf” or “plutoid” might serve as well (“Would you like to be called humanoid?”), Pluto drifts out of the Kuiper Belt to lead readers past the so-called “real” planets in succession. All sport faces with googly eyes in Keller’s bright illustrations, and distinct personalities, too—but also actual physical characteristics (“Neptune is pretty icy. And gassy. I’m not being mean, he just is”) that are supplemented by pages of “fun facts” at the end. Having fended off Saturn’s flirtation, endured Jupiter’s stormy reception (“Keep OFF THE GAS!”) and relentless mockery from the asteroids, and given Earth the cold shoulder, Pluto at last takes the sympathetic suggestion of Venus and Mercury to talk to the Sun. “She’s pretty bright.” A (what else?) warm welcome, plus our local star’s comforting reminders that every celestial body is unique (though “people talk about Uranus for reasons I don’t really want to get into”), and anyway, scientists are still arguing the matter because that’s what “science” is all about, mend Pluto’s heart at last: “Whatever I’m called, I’ll always be PLUTO!”

Hurray for the underdog. (afterword) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1453-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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