Apprentice work at best, definitely not ready for prime time.

ALICE & ANDY IN THE UNIVERSE OF WONDERS

THE PLANET EARTH

Amateur production design and underwhelming interactive features only underscore the unusual superficiality of this planetary once-over.

The text and narration can be set at any time to any of five languages plus British or American English, but the good news ends there. Read at a deliberate pace by a narrator who cannot be switched off, the wordy tale endows two 7-year-old twins with a magic globe. It takes them down to the Earth’s core (which Andy somehow spots through solid rock even before they arrive) and up into orbit, where Alice points out features that are not visible on the planet below. In response to a wish to see “different animals,” it deposits them near a camel in an unspecified desert and then in the ocean, where an anglerfish somehow shares its deep-sea habitat with coral, algae and a whale (all of which are also unseen in the illustration). They then travel to a snowy scene into which a polar bear and an Inuit lad slide slowly and rigidly after a few moments. A final wish gathers three children “from all around the world” in casual western dress, plus the Inuit in furs, to share a birthday cake. Consonant with the monotonous background music, wooden writing, scientific misinformation and disconnects between text and pictures, finger taps will make labels appear, and some figures can be induced to move a few inches or blink almost invisibly.

Apprentice work at best, definitely not ready for prime time. (iPad informational app. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 20, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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Just the ticket for an armchair outing to the red planet.

MARS! EARTHLINGS WELCOME

From the Our Universe series , Vol. 5

Good news! Planet Marvelous is looking forward to visitors from Planet Awesome.

With the same exuberance that propelled readers deep into her Ocean! Waves for All (2020), illustrated by David Litchfield, and its three predecessors in the Our Universe series, McAnulty looks to the next planet out for a fresh set of enticing natural wonders. Billing itself a “party planet” (“I want to be the FIRST planet with human guests”), the russet raconteur trumpets its unique attractions. These range from moons Deimos and Phobos (“I know Earth is totally jealous”) to Olympus Mons and Valles Marineris, which is “four times as deep as the Grand Canyon! And not nearly as crowded.” Sure, unlike Spirit, Opportunity, and other rovers, human visitors will have to pack their own water and oxygen in addition to traveling millions of miles…but given a few technological advances, soon enough it’ll be time to “get this party started!” Prospective tourists diverse of age and race are dancing already on Earth in a final scene in anticipation of a trip to our “reMARkable” neighbor. Quiz questions and a timeline cap an enticement that echoes Susanna Leonard Hill’s Mars’ First Friends: Come on Over, Rovers! (2020), illustrated by Elisa Paganelli, in its fizzy mix of fact and fancy. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 75% of actual size.)

Just the ticket for an armchair outing to the red planet. (sources) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-25688-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness.

THE BRAIN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

An introduction to the lead guitar and vocalist for the Brainiacs—the human brain.

The brain (familiar to readers of Seluk’s “The Awkward Yeti” webcomic, which spun off the adult title Heart and Brain, 2015) looks like a dodgeball with arms and legs—pinkish, sturdy, and roundish, with a pair of square-framed spectacles bestowing an air of importance and hipness. Other organs of the body—tongue, lungs, stomach, muscle, and heart—are featured as members of the brain’s rock band (the verso of the dust jacket is a poster of the band). Seluk’s breezy, conversational prose and brightly colored, boldly outlined cartoon illustrations deliver basic information. The brain’s role in keeping the heart beating and other automatic functions, directing body movements, interpreting sights and sounds, remembering smells and tastes, and regulating sleep and hunger are all explained, prose augmented by dialogue balloons and information sidebars. Seluk points out, importantly, that feelings originate in the brain: “You can control how you react…but your feelings happen no matter what.” The parodied album covers on the front endpapers (including the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Green Day, Run DMC, Queen, Nirvana) will amuse parents—or at least grandparents—and the rear endpapers serve up band members’ clever social media and texting screenshots. Backmatter includes a glossary and further brain trivia but no resources or bibliography.

A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-16700-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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