Readers will cheer the return of these merry, lab-coated schlemiels.

READ REVIEW

THE INVENTION HUNTERS DISCOVER HOW LIGHT WORKS

From the Invention Hunters series

The troupe of wacky, peripatetic invention collectors returns for a fourth adventure.

Having in previous episodes failed to comprehend machines, electricity, and sound (each explained with infinite patience by the children they encountered), four doofus scientists now crash their flying Museum of Inventionology outside an elementary school in order to investigate light. After storming the nearest classroom, they surprise a bespectacled kid, who patiently explains what a prism, magnifying glass, crayon, camera, and television are, respectively. As the child talks, the explanations scaffold upon one another. In one instance the discussion of how a prism bends light leads naturally into a talk about how a magnifying glass changes how that light does or does not come together. Each explanation is accompanied by supporting information, examples, diagrams, and historical notes with dates. Alas, by the end the Invention Hunters are no wiser than they were when they began, but young readers may have reaped the benefits. Silly art and jokes abound, perhaps to a lesser extent than in previous outings. Still, with adults as cheerfully clueless as these, it’s hard not to want to see them louse up more kinds of science in the future. The Invention Hunters are diverse; their patient guide in this title has pale skin and straight, black hair.

Readers will cheer the return of these merry, lab-coated schlemiels. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-46796-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A promising approach—but too underpowered to reach orbital velocity.

STARRY SKIES

LEARN ABOUT THE CONSTELLATIONS ABOVE US

Young earthlings turn starry skies into playscapes in this first look at constellations.

On a page first glimpsed through a big die-cut hole in the front cover, Chagollan promises that stars “tell a thousand stories.” She goes on to describe brief scenarios in which residents of Earth interact with 15 Northern Hemisphere constellations. These range from Benjamin’s battle with a fierce dragon beneath Draco to a trio of unnamed ducklings who use the Swan to “find their way home.” Six further starry clusters bearing only labels are crowded into the final spread. In illustrations composed of thin white lines on matte black backgrounds (the characters formed by the stars are glossy), Aye colors significant stars yellow, connects them with dots, and encloses them in outlines of mythological figures that are as simply drawn as the animals and humans (and mermaid) below. As a practical introduction, this has little to offer budding sky watchers beyond a limited set of constellations—two, the Big Dipper and the Summer Triangle, are not official constellations at all but classified as asterisms—that are inconsistently labeled in Latin or English or both. Despite a closing invitation to go out and “find these stars in the sky,” the book provides no sky maps or verbal guidelines that would make that actually possible.

A promising approach—but too underpowered to reach orbital velocity. (Informational picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63322-509-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walter Foster Jr.

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Constrained verse distracts from timely, basic information about transforming food into fuel.

GREEN MACHINE

THE SLIGHTLY GROSS TRUTH ABOUT TURNING YOUR FOOD SCRAPS INTO GREEN ENERGY

An introduction to the innovative (and smelly) processes that turn municipal food waste into electrical energy.

Donnelly follows the journey of food scraps from kitchen through composting bin and collection truck to a municipal digester, where the waste undergoes both human-engineered and microbe-assisted transformations. The author subjects her text to syllabic verse in rhymed triplets, a choice that places meter above clarity. Describing the digester, she writes: “A place where the waste / isn’t wasted: a tank / with the power to power our town, / where trash becomes gas, / and good riddance—that stank! / That’s the power of food breaking down.” Jacques’ illustrations adopt a retro, mid-20th-century look. Cutaways reveal the simplified inner works of the digester tank and electrical generator. Diverse workers are depicted in rather static poses; the featured family members have dark hair, varied brown skin tones, and minimally rendered, dot-and-comma facial features. “Tiny” microbes appear as large, colorful critters with googly eyes and smiles; there’s no indication that in reality they’re invisible to human eyes. A double-page summary (“Follow the Food Energy!”) reuses illustrations from previous pages to illustrate the food-to-electricity process. Within two concluding pages of facts, fossil fuels are characterized as “nonrenewable,” without mention of their dominant role in the climate crisis.

Constrained verse distracts from timely, basic information about transforming food into fuel. (further reading) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-30406-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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