A gem of a small book, thoughtfully made for small hands and, with its heavy paper and sewn binding, loving handling.

THINGS THAT GROW

A compendium of things in the universe that grow—including the universe itself—presented in an illustrated informational picture book divided into chapters.

Vast processes (the growth of mountains through plate tectonics) are combined with specific examples (the echidna doesn’t develop its spines until it leaves its mother’s pouch) to successfully explore this book’s ambitious premise: all things in our universe “develop and grow with every passing day.” This is a big idea for young readers, and because the topic of the evolution of humans occupies only two of the book’s 64 pages, it also underscores the important concept that humans are only one small part of an expansive, growing, changing universe. The book is divided into three sections: "Plants and Trees," "The Animal Kingdom," and "The Universe." Walden selects her facts and examples not only to inform readers, but to stimulate in them a curiosity that may propel further exploration. Stadtlander’s numerous illustrations—accessibly simple but not amateurish—along with the book’s small, unusual trim size (7.5 inches long by 5.8 inches high), give the book almost the look and feel of a child’s journal, which makes the weighty topics approachable. The only drawback is the book’s ending (a spread on islands rather than a summation of what’s gone before), which feels inconclusive.

A gem of a small book, thoughtfully made for small hands and, with its heavy paper and sewn binding, loving handling. (Informational picture book. 6-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-944530-05-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: 360 Degrees

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 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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In spite of the book’s flaws, dragons are very appealing, and tales for young audiences that model the scientific method are...

DRAGONS AND MARSHMALLOWS

From the Zoey and Sassafras series , Vol. 1

Zoey discovers that she can see magical creatures that might need her help.

That’s a good thing because her mother has been caring for the various beasts since childhood, but now she’s leaving on a business trip so the work will fall to Zoey. Most people (like Zoey’s father) can’t see the magical creatures, so Zoey, who appears in illustrations to be black, will have to experiment with their care by problem-solving using the scientific method to determine appropriate treatment and feeding. When a tiny, sick dragon shows up on her doorstep, she runs an experiment and determines that marshmallows appear to be the proper food. Unfortunately, she hadn’t done enough research beforehand to understand that although dragons might like marshmallows, they might not be the best food for a sick, fire-breathing baby. Although the incorporation of important STEM behaviors is a plus, the exposition is mildly clunky, with little character development and stilted dialogue. Many pages are dense with large-print text, related in Zoey’s not especially childlike voice. However, the inclusion in each chapter of a couple of attractive black-and-white illustrations of round-faced people and Zoey’s mischievous cat helps break up the narrative.

In spite of the book’s flaws, dragons are very appealing, and tales for young audiences that model the scientific method are nice to see. (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943147-08-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: The Innovation Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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