Illuminating, of course—and also a good deal of fun.

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HOW TO SURVIVE AS A FIREFLY

“Met-a-more-for-WHAT?” A stern instructor delivers life-cycle information to a class of wide-eyed firefly larvae.

Eventually even pulling a pair of class cutups to attention, the teacher—an adult rather oddly got up in a military uniform in Salcedo’s cartoon illustrations—lays down the (natural) law from “You have four different life cycle stages from when you’re an egg until you’re an adult!” to “As an adult firefly, you have just one job.” Supplementing the lecture with definitions and specific details in frequent side notes (“Finding a Mate 101”), the author covers diet, body parts, bioluminescence, molting, avoiding predators (notably cannibalistic fireflies of the Photuris genus and “giants” wielding jars with screw-top lids), and other topics. Following the teacher’s annoyed “What do you mean you have questions? I only have about 30 seconds left to live,” Foote appends follow-up pages of photos and further facts. She has her finger on the pulse of her audience, informing them of the firefly larva’s appealingly icky dining habits (liquefying its prey with poison) and realistically depicting a moment of near-total distraction when the young students delightedly repeat “bum” before being corrected by their teacher (“Grow up, larvae! It’s your flashing ABDOMEN”).

Illuminating, of course—and also a good deal of fun. (glossary, websites) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943147-32-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: The Innovation Press

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad.

THE BIG BEYOND

THE STORY OF SPACE TRAVEL

A capsule history of space exploration, from early stargazing to probes roaming the surface of Mars.

In loosely rhymed couplets Carter’s high-speed account zooms past the inventions of constellations, telescopes, and flying machines to the launches of Sputnik I, the “Saturn Five” (spelled out, probably, to facilitate the rhyme) that put men on the moon, and later probes. He caps it all with an enticing suggestion: “We’ll need an astronaut (or two)— / so what do you think? Could it be YOU?” Cushley lines up a notably diverse array of prospective young space travelers for this finish, but anachronistic earlier views of a dark-skinned astronaut floating in orbit opposite poetic references to the dogs, cats, and other animals sent into space in the 1950s and a model of the space shuttle on a shelf next to a line of viewers watching the televised moon landing in 1969 show no great regard for verisimilitude. Also, his full-page opening picture of the Challenger, its ports painted to look like a smiley face, just moments before it blew up is a decidedly odd choice to illustrate the poem’s opening countdown. As with his cosmological lyric Once upon a Star (2018, illustrated by Mar Hernández), the poet closes with a page of further facts arranged as an acrostic.

Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68010-147-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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It’s not the most dramatic version, but it’s a visually effective and serviceable addition to the rapidly growing shelf of...

THE FIRST MEN WHO WENT TO THE MOON

A 50th-anniversary commemoration of the epochal Apollo 11 mission.

Modeling her account on “The House That Jack Built” (an unspoken, appropriate nod to President John F. Kennedy’s foundational role in the enterprise), Greene takes Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins from liftoff to post-splashdown ticker-tape parade. Side notes on some spreads and two pages of further facts with photographs at the end, all in smaller type, fill in select details about the mission and its historical context. The rhymed lines are fully cumulated only once, so there is some repetition but never enough to grow monotonous: “This is the Moon, a mysterious place, / a desolate land in the darkness of space, / far from Earth with oceans blue.” Also, the presentation of the text in just three or fewer lines per spread stretches out the narrative and gives Brundage latitude for both formal and informal group portraits of Apollo 11’s all-white crew, multiple glimpses of our planet and the moon at various heights, and, near the end, atmospheric (so to speak) views of the abandoned lander and boot prints in the lunar dust.

It’s not the most dramatic version, but it’s a visually effective and serviceable addition to the rapidly growing shelf of tributes to our space program’s high-water mark. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58536-412-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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