Challenges galore for young eco-crusaders, presented in an inventive format.

PLANET SOS

A gallery of civilization-threatening “modern monsters,” from Smogosaurus and the forest-chewing Logre to Acid Rain Spirits and Nuclear Jinns.

These menaces are modeled on or at least inspired by creatures from pop culture or world folklore—Trash Kong, for instance, is joined by the Noisybird, loosely related to the similarly nine-headed Jiu Tou Niao of Chinese tradition, and the E-Waste Golem. Each one steps up in turn to boast of its destructive habits and potential and comes with an inset “Monster Card” featuring arrays of icons (interpreted on a key that can be folded out for ready reference) indicating activities that will promote, or hinder, further damage to our planet. The monsters are all created or (more commonly) abetted by human agency, and though many acknowledge anxiously that efforts are being made to check their depredations, Rohde urgently makes the case at beginning and end that there is still plenty of work to be done. The monsters themselves, which are largely rendered as diaphanous or semi-abstract shapes in various transparent hues with stylized, geometric faces, come across as more pretty than dangerous looking, and the fold-out world “Monster Map” at the end conveys a misleading impression that they are mostly localized threats rather than ubiquitous ones. Still, even younger readers will understand that each poses a real danger.

Challenges galore for young eco-crusaders, presented in an inventive format. (glossary, source list, index) (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-912920-22-8

Page Count: 60

Publisher: What on Earth Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 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.

YOUR PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE

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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