A broad, if hardly more than skin-deep, introduction to the topic.

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BIG BOOK OF THE BODY

Four double-foldout spreads literally extend this first gander at our body’s insides and outsides—to jumbo, if not quite life, size.

Labels, basic facts, and one-sentence comments surround full-length cartoon images of the skeleton, musculature, and major sections of the body on the foldouts. Selected parts from the brain on down to blood cells are covered on the leaves in between. Lacey dishes out explanations of major body systems and processes in resolutely nontechnical language: “When you eat, food goes on a long twisty journey, zigzagging through tubes and turning into a soupy mush for your body to use.” It’s lightly spiced with observations that, for instance, the “gluteus maximus” is the largest muscle or the spine is made up of “vertebrae.” So light is the once-over, however, that the lymphatic, renal, and most of the endocrine systems escape notice (kidneys, where are you?). Moreover, though printed on durable card stock, the foldouts make for unwieldy handling, and on some pages, images are so scattered that successive stages of various processes require numbering. Still, Web links on the publisher’s page will presumably help to cover the gaps (unavailable for review). An overview of human development from fertilization to adulthood precedes a closing flurry of height extremes and other “Amazing body facts” that provide proper closure for this elementary survey.

A broad, if hardly more than skin-deep, introduction to the topic. (Nonfiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7945-3596-4

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Usborne

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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More-conventional versions will be more likely to keep readers hooked.

THE SALMON OF KNOWLEDGE

An old Irish tale retold, featuring a renowned poet/teacher, a young warrior-in-training, and a very special fish.

It all begins when a salmon eats nine windfallen hazelnuts, thus acquiring “all the knowledge and secrets of the world.” Knowing that one taste of the salmon will transmit all that, “wise poet” Finnegas sets to fishing, eventually catches it, and orders his student Fionn to cook it without taking a single bite—only to be disappointed when Fionn burns himself on a drop of fat and reflexively puts his thumb in his mouth. Buckley offers a decidedly offbeat rendition of this popular tale, with dinosaur skeletons in one of her naïve-style collage scenes and a droll set of goals for warrior training that includes running beneath a knee-high branch. She also places Finnegas, in essence a bit player, in the forefront of a legend that’s really (and with stronger logic) been about the great hero Finn McCool since its earliest recorded versions. Unfortunately, the author seems to lose both interest and attention at the end. Following his climactic letdown (which is marred by a typo), Finnegas just drops abruptly out of view. Even a closing line about how the story’s now told far and wide dubs it only “Fionn and the Salmon of Knowledge.” There is no source note.

More-conventional versions will be more likely to keep readers hooked. (Picture book/folktale. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-76036-070-2

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Starfish Bay

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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While the illustrations are often flawed and feel outdated, their overall boldness and simplicity make for a nice book of...

MY ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA

French illustrator Grée’s colorful and iconic images are put front and center alongside facts on nature, animals, transportation, and space in this encyclopedia for young readers.

This book walks through a young child’s world from the basics of plants, foods, and animals to human-made homes and modes of transportation. The illustrations are the focus, with bold, themed double-page spreads and colorful, lifelike images. Some pages are so picture-focused that they include next to no text, while others—such as the two pages on animal skills and survival—strike a nice balance of image and description. There are some useful diagrams, e.g., those that outline the life cycle of a butterfly and where gasoline comes from. By contrast, there are some that confuse, such as a cross section of a house that has a detailed bathroom with no toilet and is missing the accouterments of a 21st-century home (it’s got a TV antenna!). While for the most part people are inclusively illustrated, one spread of watercraft draws heavily and cringeworthily on stereotype in its depictions of Indigenous people paddling, respectively, a canoe, a kayak, and a raft. While this is a nice book of labeled pictures, an “encyclopedia” it is not, often raising more questions than it answers: What’s a queen ant or a hydroelectric power station? The index cross-references some items but not all.

While the illustrations are often flawed and feel outdated, their overall boldness and simplicity make for a nice book of pictures—but not a meaningful or useful encyclopedia. (Nonfiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-908985-97-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Button Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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