An unusual combination of women’s history and science that shows not all questions can be answered.

BEATRIX POTTER, SCIENTIST

From the She Made History series

The scientific passions of a beloved children’s-book creator.

Beatrix Potter is revered for her classic children’s tales, but many will be unaware of her love of science. Soft, smudged pictures in Potter’s palette accompany informative prose infused with a childlike wonder at the natural world, and together they depict young Beatrix’s fascination with the landscape of Scotland, various animals, and, later, the study of mushrooms. Unsupported by her family, largely self-educated, and armed with microscope, paper, and pencil, Potter works with Scottish naturalist Charles McIntosh for years, exchanging samples and artwork until she is among the first to sprout spores in Britain. Initially rejected due to sexism, Beatrix struggles to make her findings known through a male colleague, is told that more work is required, and then mysteriously ceases her work. “What makes her stop? Does she suspect she will never be taken seriously as a scientist? Does she begin to doubt herself? Like pages ripped from a book, history holds those secrets,” the text wonders. While Peter Rabbit and company might never have come into being had Potter not switched her focus, readers and listeners will see how the ambitions of a budding woman scientist were effectively quashed, perhaps leading them to object to the unfairness of her treatment and to wonder what other discoveries go unmentioned due to inequality. All characters are White.

An unusual combination of women’s history and science that shows not all questions can be answered. (biographical note, timeline, acknowledgments, bibliography, source notes, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8075-5175-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A quick flight but a blast from first to last.

EVERYTHING AWESOME ABOUT SPACE AND OTHER GALACTIC FACTS!

From the Everything Awesome About… series

A charged-up roundup of astro-facts.

Having previously explored everything awesome about both dinosaurs (2019) and sharks (2020), Lowery now heads out along a well-traveled route, taking readers from the Big Bang through a planet-by-planet tour of the solar system and then through a selection of space-exploration highlights. The survey isn’t unique, but Lowery does pour on the gosh-wow by filling each hand-lettered, poster-style spread with emphatic colors and graphics. He also goes for the awesome in his selection of facts—so that readers get nothing about Newton’s laws of motion, for instance, but will come away knowing that just 65 years separate the Wright brothers’ flight and the first moon landing. They’ll also learn that space is silent but smells like burned steak (according to astronaut Chris Hadfield), that thanks to microgravity no one snores on the International Space Station, and that Buzz Aldrin was the first man on the moon…to use the bathroom. And, along with a set of forgettable space jokes (OK, one: “Why did the carnivore eat the shooting star?” “Because it was meteor”), the backmatter features drawing instructions for budding space artists and a short but choice reading list. Nods to Katherine Johnson and NASA’s other African American “computers” as well as astronomer Vera Rubin give women a solid presence in the otherwise male and largely White cast of humans. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A quick flight but a blast from first to last. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-35974-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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