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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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 quick flight but a blast from first to last.

EVERYTHING AWESOME ABOUT SPACE AND OTHER GALACTIC FACTS!

From the Everything Awesome About… series

A charged-up roundup of astro-facts.

Having previously explored everything awesome about both dinosaurs (2019) and sharks (2020), Lowery now heads out along a well-traveled route, taking readers from the Big Bang through a planet-by-planet tour of the solar system and then through a selection of space-exploration highlights. The survey isn’t unique, but Lowery does pour on the gosh-wow by filling each hand-lettered, poster-style spread with emphatic colors and graphics. He also goes for the awesome in his selection of facts—so that readers get nothing about Newton’s laws of motion, for instance, but will come away knowing that just 65 years separate the Wright brothers’ flight and the first moon landing. They’ll also learn that space is silent but smells like burned steak (according to astronaut Chris Hadfield), that thanks to microgravity no one snores on the International Space Station, and that Buzz Aldrin was the first man on the moon…to use the bathroom. And, along with a set of forgettable space jokes (OK, one: “Why did the carnivore eat the shooting star?” “Because it was meteor”), the backmatter features drawing instructions for budding space artists and a short but choice reading list. Nods to Katherine Johnson and NASA’s other African American “computers” as well as astronomer Vera Rubin give women a solid presence in the otherwise male and largely White cast of humans. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A quick flight but a blast from first to last. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-35974-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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