Facts about chlorophyll combine with a sense of wonder.

READ REVIEW

SUMMER GREEN TO AUTUMN GOLD

UNCOVERING LEAVES' HIDDEN COLORS

Art and text move through summer, fall, winter, and spring to explain the science behind the seasonal changes in deciduous trees.

“What kinds of leaves do you see in the summer?” The opening double-page spread has a stark white background. Seventeen different trees are represented by a scattered array of leaves—each carefully labeled—in many gradations of green. The enticing collage art uses negative space to show the veins. The page turn leads to additional glorious art, affirming the text’s use of such words as “emerald” and “jade.” Lush canopies of summer leaves part just enough to reveal, in the distance, people and a dog paddling a red canoe across a lake. Although all the illustrations concentrate on tree leaves, they occasionally include similar scenes of seasonal human activities—subtle reminders that humans are also affected by nature’s cycles. The text uses some anthropomorphism (trees and/or their leaves conceal “secrets,” “wait,” “make food,” and sleep) as it introduces young readers to chloroplasts, chlorophyll, plant cells, and the process of photosynthesis as well as the role of fallen leaves in an ecosystem. After the final double-page spread, which reveals a world returned to springtime, there are two pages written in a straightforward, scientific manner, supplementing the earlier text with further information about leaves—including differentiation between deciduous trees and evergreens and the names and characteristics of pigments hidden beneath a leaf’s chlorophyll.

Facts about chlorophyll combine with a sense of wonder. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2899-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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This charming star shines bright.

THE SUN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

A humorous introduction to our sun and the solar system.

Webcomic creator Seluk aquaints readers with the sun (sporting a sly grin and a cool pair of shades) and its position as both the literal and metaphorical star of the solar system. Readers are introduced to the planets’ general relationships to the sun before diving deeper into the Earth’s unique reliance on the sun: “It does a ton of important jobs for Earth. In fact, we wouldn’t be around without the Sun!” The book explores everything from the effects of Earth’s rotation on our planet’s temperatures, daylight, and seasons to the water cycle and photosynthesis with clear and friendly prose. The planets’ characterizations are silly and irreverent: Venus wears a visor, Saturn is a hula-hoop champ, and Jupiter desperately wants an autograph but pretends it’s for one of its moons. Speech-bubble asides and simple but expressive faces and arm postures add to the celestial bodies’ personalities. Bright colors, contrasting backgrounds, and bold lines are engaging but never overwhelming. Vocabulary words set in boldface are tied to a glossary in the back. Backmatter also includes a gossip-magazine–style spread (“Planets: They’re Just Like Us!”) and a “Did You Know” section that highlights ancient civilizations’ beliefs about the sun.

This charming star shines bright. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-16697-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness.

THE BRAIN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

An introduction to the lead guitar and vocalist for the Brainiacs—the human brain.

The brain (familiar to readers of Seluk’s “The Awkward Yeti” webcomic, which spun off the adult title Heart and Brain, 2015) looks like a dodgeball with arms and legs—pinkish, sturdy, and roundish, with a pair of square-framed spectacles bestowing an air of importance and hipness. Other organs of the body—tongue, lungs, stomach, muscle, and heart—are featured as members of the brain’s rock band (the verso of the dust jacket is a poster of the band). Seluk’s breezy, conversational prose and brightly colored, boldly outlined cartoon illustrations deliver basic information. The brain’s role in keeping the heart beating and other automatic functions, directing body movements, interpreting sights and sounds, remembering smells and tastes, and regulating sleep and hunger are all explained, prose augmented by dialogue balloons and information sidebars. Seluk points out, importantly, that feelings originate in the brain: “You can control how you react…but your feelings happen no matter what.” The parodied album covers on the front endpapers (including the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Green Day, Run DMC, Queen, Nirvana) will amuse parents—or at least grandparents—and the rear endpapers serve up band members’ clever social media and texting screenshots. Backmatter includes a glossary and further brain trivia but no resources or bibliography.

A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-16700-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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