Jet-propelled—but a good introduction nevertheless.

THE HISTORY OF PREHISTORY

A quick tour through our planet’s past, from the aptly named Hadean Eon to the invention of writing.

With a cheery reassurance that their facts are “bang up-to-date and checked by experts!” two young tour guides—one light skinned, one dark—begin by ushering readers past Earth’s fiery beginnings (“Monstrous volcanoes spew out lava”). The earliest signs of life and the age of dinosaurs give way to Australopithecus afarensis “Lucy,” Homo sapiens, the appearance of cave paintings 40,000 years ago, and so on to stone tools, farming, and, finally, 4,000-year-old hymns ascribed to the first identified author, a Sumerian priestess named En-hedu-anna. For all their claims, the veteran collaborators (Books! Books! Books!, 2017, etc.) do slip up occasionally, repeatedly noting for instance, that pterosaurs are flying reptiles and not dinosaurs but neglecting to explain the difference and by understating the currently theorized age of the oldest cave art by over 20,000 years. Still, in their cartoon illustrations they bring young time tourists face to face with now-vanished creatures, several types of prehuman ancestors, a (light-skinned, female) cave artist, and En-hedu-anna, dressed in elaborate regalia and digging away on a clay tablet. And, just for fun, a timeline designed as a board game at the end offers a painless review of the passing eras.

Jet-propelled—but a good introduction nevertheless. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-91095-976-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Otter-Barry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A sketchy teaser in search of an audience.

EDDIE THE ELECTRON MOVES OUT

From the Eddie the Electron series , Vol. 2

A subatomic narrator describes how helium, a nonrenewable resource, is formed deep underground.

The very simple cartoon style of the illustrations suggests a breezier ride than the scientifically challenging content delivers. With much reliance on explanatory endnotes, Rooney sends her zippy narrator—newly freed from a popped balloon (see Eddie the Electron, 2015)—barreling its way past billions of nitrogen and oxygen atoms to the top of the atmosphere. Eddie describes how uranium and thorium trapped in the newly formed planet’s crust self-destructed to leave helium as a stable byproduct. Billions of tedious years later (“I thought I would die of pair annihilation!”) that helium was extracted for a wide variety of industrial uses. Following mentions of Einstein and how Eddie is mysteriously connected to other atoms “in a way that surpasses space and time,” the popeyed purple particle floats off with a plea to cut down on the party balloons to conserve a rare element. Younger readers may find this last notion easier to latch onto than the previous dose of physics, which is seriously marred both by the vague allusions and by Eddie’s identification as a helium atom rather than the free electron that his portrayals in the art, not to mention his moniker, indicate.

A sketchy teaser in search of an audience. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-944995-14-0

Page Count: 27

Publisher: Amberjack Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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A blast from the past, sure to transport fans of all things big and loud.

JUMBO

In a properly lap- and eye-filling format (it has a 2-foot wingspan), a soaring tribute to the “Queen of the Skies.”

Following Go for the Moon (2019), Gall pays homage to another outsize triumph of engineering wizardry and industrial might. A mammoth machine two and a half times larger than any other jet liner of its time, Boeing’s 747 is so big, he claims, that the Wright brothers could have made their entire first flight in its fuselage without leaving the coach section. It debuted in 1968 and, though now retired from domestic use, is still the fastest commercial passenger plane in the world. Drawn with Gall’s customary clean precision, a mix of dramatically angled full-body portraits, glimpses of workers in a gigantic assembly plant, cutaway views of cockpit and spacious seating areas, detailed sectional diagrams of wings and engines, and flocks of smaller aircraft from a paper plane to a suddenly dinky-seeming 737 combine to underscore the scope of the technological achievement as well as both the sheer scale of the jet and of the effort that went into building it. There is also a dream-come-true element, as a red-haired, pale-skinned child frequenting the pictures through each stage of the leviathan’s design and assembly makes a final appearance in the pilot’s seat and turns out to be Lynn Rippelmeyer, the first woman to captain a 747. Clad in late-20th-century attire, the small human figures clustering throughout add a sense of period but are nearly all White.

A blast from the past, sure to transport fans of all things big and loud. (glossary, source list, “fun facts,” afterword) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-15580-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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