A bubbly blast of science and common sense, timely as well as timeless.



A recipe for health-conscious behavior, with some currently applicable additions.

The author and illustrator of How Do Molecules Stay Together? (2019) range beyond the title’s implied focus to deliver standard-issue remarks on the benefits of trying for a better balance of food groups while getting plenty of sleep and exercise. Especially timely material, however, includes urging readers to “do a dab” for coughs and sneezes, practice “social distancing,” and especially to wash hands both often and long enough for a double chorus of “Happy Birthday.” Along with explaining how soap’s hydrophilic and hydrophobic ingredients help wash off what she redundantly refers to as “germs and bacteria” (viruses get separate mention), Hayes describes the differences between vaccines and what she calls “symptoms medications” and “Treatment medications.” Also, though the current pandemic isn’t mentioned, some of the leering microbes in the cartoon-style illustrations at least resemble coronaviruses. Occasional slides into drollery, notably a suggestion that sleep builds brain power because “little elf librarians” sneak into bedrooms at night to share books (“unfortunately, that has never been proven”), lighten the message, as do a racially diverse array of human figures, nearly all of which are children or doctors, who dance energetically throughout, gesticulating broadly and repeatedly demonstrating “doing the dab” for those who aren’t in the know. A simple, soapy experiment and a smoothie recipe add hands-on elements. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 65% of actual size.)

A bubbly blast of science and common sense, timely as well as timeless. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4867-2073-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flowerpot Press

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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 stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge, certain to inspire deep thoughts.


From a Caldecott and Sibert honoree, an invitation to take a mind-expanding journey from the surface of our planet to the furthest reaches of the observable cosmos.

Though Chin’s assumption that we are even capable of understanding the scope of the universe is quixotic at best, he does effectively lead viewers on a journey that captures a sense of its scale. Following the model of Kees Boeke’s classic Cosmic View: The Universe in Forty Jumps (1957), he starts with four 8-year-old sky watchers of average height (and different racial presentations). They peer into a telescope and then are comically startled by the sudden arrival of an ostrich that is twice as tall…and then a giraffe that is over twice as tall as that…and going onward and upward, with ellipses at each page turn connecting the stages, past our atmosphere and solar system to the cosmic web of galactic superclusters. As he goes, precisely drawn earthly figures and features in the expansive illustrations give way to ever smaller celestial bodies and finally to glimmering swirls of distant lights against gulfs of deep black before ultimately returning to his starting place. A closing recap adds smaller images and additional details. Accompanying the spare narrative, valuable side notes supply specific lengths or distances and define their units of measure, accurately explain astronomical phenomena, and close with the provocative observation that “the observable universe is centered on us, but we are not in the center of the entire universe.”

A stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge, certain to inspire deep thoughts. (afterword, websites, further reading) (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4623-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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