These pears will be fun read-aloud companions for curious eaters and budding botanists

ARE WE PEARS YET?

Paul (The Great Pasta Escape, 2017, etc.) merges theatrical farce with informational picture book in this latest.

If pears could stage a production to tell the story of their life cycle, this would be that show. Two excited young seeds, one depicted as feminine (with a little red hat and a decorative flower) and especially anxious, the other a masculine know-it-all (accessorized with a bow tie and a cane), announce they are going to be pears as this biological play begins. First, of course, the seeds need soil, rain, and sunshine. Then they must settle in for a long nap—a 2-year-long one! Even after their long nap the anxious seed is disappointed to find they are still only saplings. It takes three more years before they grow into fruit-bearing trees. Throughout the book, Berger’s collage art harkens to the theater, illustrating footlights, stagehands, and props, even breaking the flow of the speech-bubble dialogue when a big costume change comes midway through a dispute between the two leads. The use of gendered portrayals of the seedlings raises the question of pollination in the creation of fruit without addressing the roles of botanical male and female contributions. Nevertheless, this cute and simple story brings readers back to the cycle of life as the female pear reveals that she harbors new seeds with which the play’s action may begin again. Backmatter offers further information on pear growth, a handful of pear trivia, and a bibliography.

These pears will be fun read-aloud companions for curious eaters and budding botanists . (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-351-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants.

A WORLD TOGETHER

Large color photographs (occasionally composed of montages) and accessible, simple text highlight global similarities and differences, always focusing on our universal connections.

While child readers may not recognize Manzano, the Puerto Rican actress who played Maria on Sesame Street, adults will recognize her as a trusted diverse voice. In her endnote, she explains her desire to “encourage lively conversations about shared experiences.” Starting out with the familiar, home and community, the text begins with “How many WONDERFUL PEOPLE do you know?” Then it moves out to the world: “Did you know there are about 8 BILLION PEOPLE on the planet?” The photo essay features the usual concrete similarities and differences found in many books of this type, such as housing (a Mongolian yurt opposite a Hong Kong apartment building overlooking a basketball court), food (dumplings, pizza, cotton candy, a churro, etc.), and school. Manzano also makes sure to point out likenesses in emotions, as shown in a montage of photos from countries including China, Spain, Kashmir (Pakistan/India), and the United States. At the end, a world map and thumbnail images show the locations of all photos, revealing a preponderance of examples from the U.S. and a slight underrepresentation for Africa and South America.

Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3738-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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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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