The personification adds an appealing angle to this venturesome visit to Earth’s closest planetary neighbor.

CURIOSITY

THE STORY OF A MARS ROVER

The latest and greatest of the Mars rovers tells its tale and explains its purpose.

Fans of the eponymous robot star of the film WALL-E will see a kindred spirit in this chronicle’s narrator as it wheels its lonely way over dimly lit Martian barrens, glassy camera-eye held jauntily above its buggy-shaped chassis. Emphasizing flat, geometric shapes to give his big scenes a retro look, Motum begins with stylized views of the red planet, then briefly summarizes Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon’s surface before showing Curiosity under construction, then in schematic fashion depicts each stage of the rover’s launch, long voyage, and final descent. “Touchdown confirmed. We’re safe on Mars!” (An actual quote, though from a NASA official, not the fictive narrator.) The oversized trim accommodates sweeping views of space, panoramas of both the control room and Mars, and a 90-degree turn to dramatize liftoff. The narrative proceeds in a methodical, matter-of-fact way to lay out details of the rover’s design and assembly—by, in the art at least, a carefully diverse crew of NASA workers—along with its space journey and what it has been up to since its 2012 landing. Suggesting that its findings are likely to provide as many questions as answers, Curiosity concludes with the thought that its wheel tracks may one day be joined by footprints. Here’s hoping.

The personification adds an appealing angle to this venturesome visit to Earth’s closest planetary neighbor. (timeline, glossary, note on other Mars rovers) (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9504-0

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans.

EVERYTHING AWESOME ABOUT SHARKS AND OTHER UNDERWATER CREATURES!

In the wake of Everything Awesome About Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Beasts! (2019), Lowery spins out likewise frothy arrays of facts and observations about sharks, whales, giant squid, and smaller but no less extreme (or at least extremely interesting) sea life.

He provides plenty of value-added features, from overviews of oceanic zones and environments to jokes, drawing instructions, and portrait galleries suitable for copying or review. While not one to pass up any opportunity to, for instance, characterize ambergris as “whale vomit perfume” or the clownfish’s protective coating as “snot armor,” he also systematically introduces members of each of the eight orders of sharks, devotes most of a page to the shark’s electroreceptive ampullae of Lorenzini, and even sheds light on the unobvious differences between jellyfish and the Portuguese man-of-war or the reason why the blue octopus is said to have “arms” rather than “tentacles.” He also argues persuasively that sharks have gotten a bad rap (claiming that more people are killed each year by…vending machines) and closes with pleas to be concerned about plastic waste, to get involved in conservation efforts, and (cannily) to get out and explore our planet because (quoting Jacques-Yves Cousteau) “People protect what they love.” Human figures, some with brown skin, pop up occasionally to comment in the saturated color illustrations. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 45% of actual size.)

An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans. (bibliography, list of organizations) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35973-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

GET THE SCOOP ON ANIMAL SNOT, SPIT & SLIME!

FROM SNAKE VENOM TO FISH SLIME, 251 COOL FACTS ABOUT MUCUS, SALIVA & MORE

Cusick floats a slick, select gallery of nature’s spitters, nose-pickers, oozers, and slimers—most but not all nonhuman—atop nourishing globs of scientific information.

Title notwithstanding, the book is limited just to mucus and saliva. Following introductory looks at the major components of each, Cusick describes their often similar uses in nature—in swallowing or expelling foreign matter, fighting disease, predation and defense, camouflage, travel, communication (“Aren’t you glad humans use words to communicate?”), home construction, nutrition, and more. All of this is presented in easily digestible observations placed among, and often referring to, color photos of slime-covered goby fish, a giraffe with its tongue up its nose, various drooling animals, including a white infant, and like photogenic subjects. Two simple experiments cater to hands-on types, but any readers who take delight in sentences like “Some fungus beetles eat snail slime mucus” come away both stimulated and informed.

What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63322-115-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Moondance/Quarto

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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