An amusing more than informative overview of germs for an audience that may find the whole business mildly bemusing.

GERMS

FACT AND FICTION, FRIENDS AND FOES

Colorful bacteria cavort among people of various races in this simple introduction to germs.

Anthropomorphic bacteria, yeasts, molds, fungi, and viruses are depicted wearing clothes, marching in armies, climbing ladders to play on a giant fingernail, and ebulliently gathering to watch football on television. Other pages include illustrations of much more realistic-looking germs. Text, occasionally swirling across the pages, complements the playful illustrations to provide information in clear, child-friendly language. (Unfortunately, the explanation for “that funny sound you sometimes hear in your belly when you’re hungry?…it’s us germs breaking down the food!” is inaccurate; these sounds are caused by peristaltic movement of partially digested food.) Helpfully, the book also draws attention to useful microorganisms as well as the disease-causing varieties and offers very introductory information on some early scientific discoveries, mentioning microscope inventor Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek and the work of Louis Pasteur. Soft, attractive pencil, watercolor, and mixed-media illustrations match well with the text, and their energy enhances the presentation. A useful, rather detailed glossary and a short essay on the value of hand-washing follow, although some listeners may wonder why anyone would want to wash away such cute little critters. That is better explained by Nicola Davies’ Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes, illustrated by Emily Sutton (2014).

An amusing more than informative overview of germs for an audience that may find the whole business mildly bemusing. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8050-7915-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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A solid, small step for diversifying STEM stories.

ASTRONAUT ANNIE

What does Annie want to be?

As career day approaches, Annie wants to keep her job choice secret until her family sees her presentation at school. Readers will figure it out, however, through the title and clues Tadgell incorporates into the illustrations. Family members make guesses about her ambitions that are tied to their own passions, although her brother watches as she completes her costume in a bedroom with a Mae Jemison poster, starry décor, and a telescope. There’s a celebratory mood at the culminating presentation, where Annie says she wants to “soar high through the air” like her basketball-playing mother, “explore faraway places” like her hiker dad, and “be brave and bold” like her baker grandmother (this feels forced, but oven mitts are part of her astronaut costume) so “the whole world will hear my exciting stories” like her reporter grandfather. Annie jumps off a chair to “BLAST OFF” in a small illustration superimposed on a larger picture depicting her floating in space with a reddish ground below. It’s unclear if Annie imagines this scene or if it’s her future-self exploring Mars, but either scenario fits the aspirational story. Backmatter provides further reading suggestions and information about the moon and four women astronauts, one of whom is Jemison. Annie and her family are all black.

A solid, small step for diversifying STEM stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-88448-523-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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