An appealing, exhilarating, and informative vicarious journey of discovery.

FLYING DEEP

CLIMB INSIDE DEEP-SEA SUBMERSIBLE ALVIN

Readers join an Alvin pilot and scientists in an exciting journey as they voyage down deep to the ocean floor to collect samples and conduct research.

Named for Allyn Vine, who helped pioneer deep submergence research and technology for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Alvin helped in the exploration of the Titanic wreckage in 1986. “Imagine you’re the pilot of Alvin, a deep-sea submersible barely big enough for three,” the engaging text begins. Cusolito’s inviting, “you are there” narration puts readers inside the submersible to discover what one wears, eats, and talks about during a typical eight-hour journey to learn about life inhabiting the deepest realms of our oceans. How do you breathe? What kind of music might you listen to? How do you see when you “enter thick blackness”? The answers to those and many other questions are answered. The voyage down is not without perils: “Fishing nets or anchor chains could entangle Alvin and trap you.” On the seafloor, “Eerie spires loom. Black smokers blast scalding water and poisonous, sooty particles from deep inside Earth.” The digitally created illustrations evoke the dark mysteriousness of the deep ocean and depict the crew as a man of color, a white woman, and a white man. Endmatter explains how Alvin works and describes the author’s and illustrator’s research.

An appealing, exhilarating, and informative vicarious journey of discovery. (glossary, further reading) (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58089-811-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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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It’s nothing new in territory or angle, but it’s still a serviceable survey with reasonably durable moving parts.

THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF PLANET EARTH

Flaps, pull tabs, and pop-ups large and small enhance views of our planet’s inside, outside, atmosphere, biosphere, and geophysics.

It’s a hefty, high-speed tour through Earth’s features, climates, and natural resources, with compressed surveys of special topics on multileveled flaps and a spread on the history of life that is extended by a double-foldout wing. But even when teeming with small images of land forms, wildlife, or diverse groups of children and adults, Balicevic’s bright cartoon illustrations look relatively uncrowded. Although the quality of the paper engineering is uneven, the special effects add dramatic set pieces: Readers need to hold in place a humongous column of cumulonimbus clouds for it to reach its full extension; a volcano erupts in a gratifyingly large scale; and, on the plate-tectonics spread, a pull tab gives readers the opportunity to run the Indian Plate into the Eurasian one and see the Himalayas bulge up. A final spread showing resources, mostly renewable ones, being tapped ends with an appeal to protect “our only home.” All in all, it’s a likely alternative to Dougal Jerram’s Utterly Amazing Earth, illustrated by Dan Crisp and Molly Lattin (2017), being broader in scope and a bit more generous in its level of detail.

It’s nothing new in territory or angle, but it’s still a serviceable survey with reasonably durable moving parts. (Informational novelty. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 979-1-02760-562-0

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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