A brief but lively episode for young STEM pullers, easily bearing a substantial informational load.


From the Art Smart, Science Detective series , Vol. 1

A young sleuth observes and reasons his way to the true nature of an apparent UFO.

His mom may claim that “not everything can be explained with logic and reason,” but those tools serve 10-year-old Art well—whether the mystery involves missing chocolate kisses (“The evidence was right there on my dad’s face”) or the weird purple blotch that swims into view when he aims his telescope at the night sky. True, the latter sight does have him and his three friends covering the garage windows, “shoving” peanut butter in their ears to ward off hypnotic voices (“It works better than cotton”), and calling the police. Amid the ruckus, though, Art suddenly notices that the blotch is in the same position no matter where the telescope points…and with a wet wipe solves the mystery. Along the way, the author slips in references to some constellations, a mnemonic phrase to keep the planets in order, and other useful bits of knowledge. Art even steps out between each chapter to deliver brief lectures, and an epilogue offers young stargazers leads to further information about Galileo and the constellations. The figures in Wyrick’s illustrations, though immobile of face and artificial of pose, do add some diversity by casting Robbie as black and Jason as a boy of color; Art and Amy are white.

A brief but lively episode for young STEM pullers, easily bearing a substantial informational load. (Mystery. 9-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61117-935-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Young Palmetto Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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A rare chance to shine for the former ninth planet.



Is it a planet? A dwarf planet? What’s up with that mysterious body that, even in our best telescopes, floats tantalizingly at the edge of visibility?

Pairing a lighthearted narrative in a hand-lettered–style typeface with informally drawn cartoon illustrations, this lively tale of astronomical revelations begins with the search for “Planet X.” It then sweeps past Pluto’s first sighting by Clyde Tombaugh and its naming by 11-year-old Venetia Burney to the later discovery of more icy worlds—both in our solar system’s Kuiper belt and orbiting other stars. Meanwhile, sailing along with a smug expression, the mottled orange planetoid is “busy dancing with its moons. / Cha-cha / Cha-cha-cha” and Kuiper buddies as it waits for Earth’s astronomers to realize at last that it’s different from the other planets (“BINGO!”) and needs a new classification. Ceres inexplicably rates no entry in the gallery of dwarf planets, and the closing glossary isn’t exactly stellar (“World: Any object in space”), but fans of Basher’s postmodern science surveys will feel right at home with the buoyant mix of personification and hard fact.

A rare chance to shine for the former ninth planet. (photos and additional detail, “Note from the Museum,” suggested reading, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0423-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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A lively jaunt over well-traveled territory.


Conducted by a cat in a retro-futuristic space suit, this tour of the solar system and beyond earns style points for both its illustrations and its selection of “Factoroids.”

Diverging from the straight-line course such tours usually take, Professor Astro Cat begins with the Big Bang and the subsequent formation of stars and galaxies. In single-topic spreads, he then sails past the sun to present the Earth and moon, space travel from Apollo to the International Space Station, and the other planets in succession with their major moons and distinctive features. Going beyond the solar system, he explores constellations and telescopes and finally speculates in free-wheeling fashion about alien life and our future travels to other worlds. In blocky, mid-last-century–style cartoon pictures printed on rough paper, Astro Cat and his mouse sidekick point and comment as the smiling sun, cutaway views of spacecraft and satellites, heavenly bodies of many sorts and (toward the end) googly-eyed aliens sail past. Though claims that gas giants have a “surface” and that astronauts wear “armour to protect against flying space rocks” are, at best, misleading (and the text could have stood another round of copy editing), Astro Cat’s digestible bursts of information are generally accurate—and well-salted with memorable notes about, for instance, diamonds on Uranus or how dirty laundry on the water-poor ISS is consigned to fiery destruction in the atmosphere.

A lively jaunt over well-traveled territory. (glossary) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-909263-079

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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