“Seriously funny facts” that will fly off the shelves.

READ REVIEW

THE TRUTH ABOUT BUTTERFLIES

From the Truth About Your Favorite Animals series

Eaton explores butterflies.

Having won over his young readers with titles about a wide variety of vertebrates, such as The Truth About Hawks (2019), Eaton introduces insects—with a focus on butterflies—with his signature combination of carefully chosen facts and engaging fantasy. Here, his cast of characters includes a brown-skinned human observer who uses a wheelchair and a hungry cat as well as a wide range of talking butterflies. A selection of colorful species is shown at actual size on an early spread. The author describes some of their “useful parts” (proboscis, antennae, compound eyes, tarsi) and how they avoid being eaten. One double-page spread examines how butterflies differ from moths, with butterflies on verso in the daytime and moths across the gutter on recto at night. Appropriately, Eaton devotes the most space to chronicling butterfly metamorphosis, using the monarch (studied in many classrooms) to illustrate each stage. He tells his young readers how to distinguish male and female monarchs and describes the search for a mate. Winter can be a problem: Some types of butterflies die, some hibernate, and monarchs fly to Mexico. Finally he mentions human threats. To help, his readers can care for butterfly gardens or even help raise butterflies from caterpillars. His cartoon-style illustrations feature firm black outlines and bright colors. They deserve careful attention: They reinforce the solid information and add sly humor. (A poop/pupa joke will help retention of that particular vocabulary word.)

“Seriously funny facts” that will fly off the shelves. (further facts, further research) (Informational picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-23253-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Science at its best: informative and gross.

DO NOT LICK THIS BOOK

Why not? Because “IT’S FULL OF GERMS.”

Of course, Ben-Barak rightly notes, so is everything else—from your socks to the top of Mount Everest. Just to demonstrate, he invites readers to undertake an exploratory adventure (only partly imaginary): First touch a certain seemingly blank spot on the page to pick up a microbe named Min, then in turn touch teeth, shirt, and navel to pick up Rae, Dennis, and Jake. In the process, readers watch crews of other microbes digging cavities (“Hey kid, brush your teeth less”), spreading “lovely filth,” and chowing down on huge rafts of dead skin. For the illustrations, Frost places dialogue balloons and small googly-eyed cartoon blobs of diverse shape and color onto Rundgren’s photographs, taken using a scanning electron microscope, of the fantastically rugged surfaces of seemingly smooth paper, a tooth, textile fibers, and the jumbled crevasses in a belly button. The tour concludes with more formal introductions and profiles for Min and the others: E. coli, Streptococcus, Aspergillus niger, and Corynebacteria. “Where will you take Min tomorrow?” the author asks teasingly. Maybe the nearest bar of soap.

Science at its best: informative and gross. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17536-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad.

THE BIG BEYOND

THE STORY OF SPACE TRAVEL

A capsule history of space exploration, from early stargazing to probes roaming the surface of Mars.

In loosely rhymed couplets Carter’s high-speed account zooms past the inventions of constellations, telescopes, and flying machines to the launches of Sputnik I, the “Saturn Five” (spelled out, probably, to facilitate the rhyme) that put men on the moon, and later probes. He caps it all with an enticing suggestion: “We’ll need an astronaut (or two)— / so what do you think? Could it be YOU?” Cushley lines up a notably diverse array of prospective young space travelers for this finish, but anachronistic earlier views of a dark-skinned astronaut floating in orbit opposite poetic references to the dogs, cats, and other animals sent into space in the 1950s and a model of the space shuttle on a shelf next to a line of viewers watching the televised moon landing in 1969 show no great regard for verisimilitude. Also, his full-page opening picture of the Challenger, its ports painted to look like a smiley face, just moments before it blew up is a decidedly odd choice to illustrate the poem’s opening countdown. As with his cosmological lyric Once upon a Star (2018, illustrated by Mar Hernández), the poet closes with a page of further facts arranged as an acrostic.

Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68010-147-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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