The archetype’s patterns are just visible enough to boost this light payload of silliness and STEM-ware into orbit.

THERE WAS AN OLD ASTRONAUT WHO SWALLOWED THE MOON!

Ever ready to extend her culinary experience, the old lady of song turns to astrophagy.

Colandro’s 17th (and counting) riff on the classic cumulative rhyme sends the space-suited elder into space to swallow the moon (“It happened at noon at noon”). She then goes on in no obviously logical fashion to chow down on a star, a planet, a comet, a meteoroid, a rocket (“It was next on the docket”), and a satellite—before settling at last, in Lee’s frenetically stippled climactic scene, amid a diverse group of awestruck children beneath a gloriously crowded planetarium “sky.” In between verses two young and generally earthbound observers, one a child of color and the other white, step in to supply basic astro-facts (“That meteoroid made a loud sound!” observes one; the other explains, “It’s a meteorite when it hits the ground”) that are extended, at least a little, in a set of closing notes. And a search-and-find game at the end invites emergent stargazers to go back in search of various objects hidden in the cartoon starscapes. The titular old astronaut will be instantly recognizable to fans of the series as the bespectacled, white-bunned, lantern-jawed white protagonist they’ve come to know.

The archetype’s patterns are just visible enough to boost this light payload of silliness and STEM-ware into orbit. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-32507-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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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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Life’s questions remain unanswered in this attractive but frustratingly bland book.

THE BOY AND THE SEA

A boy’s life is steered by and reflected in his relationship with the sea.

In a series of swirling, impressionistic, watercolor seascapes, a dark-haired, white-skinned boy is pictured at different life stages: as a young child; as a grown man with a family; and as an old man. At each stage, he receives a meaningful message from the sea. His moods are reflected in the moods of the sea, sometimes “dark and dangerous,” sometimes “tranquil and tender.” As the boy moves through the life stages, both he and the sea feel “the pull of something more.” He looks to the sea for answers to life’s questions, and sometimes they are answered—but just with a word: dream, love, be. Even when he is grown, he still does not know the answers to his questions. In its coverage of an entire life’s span, the book seems to be attempting to provide a universal message of guidance for growing up, but it’s too general and lacking in any kind of strong connection to be of value or of interest to a developing child. Small vignettes hint at adolescent conflicts, but so obliquely and superficially as to be valueless and at times obscure—particularly given that the audience for this book has not yet reached adolescence. That said, Bates’ paintings are lovely, capturing foamy, cresting waves in varying degrees of vigor; this seascape is never still. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 50% of actual size.)

Life’s questions remain unanswered in this attractive but frustratingly bland book. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4940-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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