A tantalizing, if not dependably factual, first flight.


An extraterrestrial’s search for home turns into a tour of the planets.

In the patterned tradition of P.D. Eastman’s Are You My Mother? (sort of), green-skinned Beep zooms from planet to planet, but none turns out to be his own “small and red and beautiful” one. With time for just a name and a fact (“Neptune is the windiest planet”), each merits only a quick flyby, being too big or too hot or, anthropocentrically for Earth, “much too busy.” When at last small, red, beautiful Mars comes into view, Beep lands his saucer joyfully to find mate and child (or equivalents) waiting. Miller strews his cartoon spaceways with rockets, satellites, sparkly stars, and nonhuman passersby of diverse description. Only at Pluto, which Beep zooms by between Earth and Venus (it’s unclear how Houran has plotted Beep’s route) and which sports a “Not a Planet Anymore” sign, do the smiles that he puts on the faces of nearly every astronomical body briefly change to frowns: “Oh dear. Sorry about that. Good luck.” There is no explanation for Pluto’s demotion, not to mention any reference to the solar system’s eight other dwarf planets. Pluto does assume its proper station on the closing planetary panorama, but the hand-wavy approach to strict accuracy kicks Earth’s moon out to share an orbit with Mars. Fortunately there are enough similar but more detailed tours available that primary level readers inspired by Beep’s mini-odyssey to book a deeper interplanetary dive will be spoiled for choice. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8-by-14-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

A tantalizing, if not dependably factual, first flight. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68052-955-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cottage Door Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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There may be an audience for this—but not in any library, classroom, group, or, particularly considering the pointy piece,...


From the Scratch and Learn series

A very simple guide to (some) human anatomy, with scratch-off patches.

On sturdy board pages two cartoon children—one brown, one a sunburned pink—pose for cutaway views of select anatomical features. In most images certain parts, such as lungs and bladder on the “Organs” spread and both gluteus maximi on “Muscles,” are hidden beneath a black layer that can be removed with the flat end (or more slowly with the pointed one) of a wooden stylus housed in an attached bubble pack. With notable lack of consistency, the names of select organs or areas, with such child-centric additions as “A cut,” or “Poop,” are gathered in bulleted lists and/or placed as labels for arbitrarily chosen items in the pictures. It’s hard to envision younger readers getting more than momentary satisfaction from this, as they industriously scrape away and are invited to learn terms such as “Alveoli” and “Latissimus dorsi” that are, at best, minimally defined or described. Older ones in search of at least marginally systematic versions of the skeletal, sensory, nervous, and other (but not reproductive) systems will be even less satisfied. Even those alive to the extracurricular possibilities of a volume that contains, as one of the two warnings on the rear cover notes, a “functional sharp point,” will be disappointed.

There may be an audience for this—but not in any library, classroom, group, or, particularly considering the pointy piece, preschool setting. (Informational novelty. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-323-9

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Just the ticket to spark or nurture early interest in the wonders of the natural world.


From the American Museum of Natural History Easy Readers series

“Extreme” gets a broad definition (ticks?), but the first-rate photographs and easy-to-read commentary in this survey of animals adapted to harsh habitats will win over budding naturalists.

Sixteen creatures ranging from hot-springs bacteria and the tiny but nearly invulnerable water bear to sperm whales parade past, sandwiched between an introductory spread and a full gallery of thumbnails that works as a content review. The animals are presented in an ordered way that expedites comparisons and contrasts of body features or environments. The sharply reproduced individual stock photos were all taken in the wild and include a mix of close-up portraits, slightly longer shots that show surroundings and more distant eyewitness views. The Roops present concrete facts in simple language—“Penguins have feathers and thick fat to keep them warm”—and vary the structures of their two- to four-sentence passages so that there is never a trace of monotony. Like its co-published and equally inviting title, Melissa Stewart’s World’s Fastest Animals, this otherwise polished series entry closes with a marginally relevant small-type profile of a herpetologist at the American Museum of Natural History.

Just the ticket to spark or nurture early interest in the wonders of the natural world. (Informational early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4549-0631-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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