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

READ REVIEW

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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Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad.

THE BIG BEYOND

THE STORY OF SPACE TRAVEL

A capsule history of space exploration, from early stargazing to probes roaming the surface of Mars.

In loosely rhymed couplets Carter’s high-speed account zooms past the inventions of constellations, telescopes, and flying machines to the launches of Sputnik I, the “Saturn Five” (spelled out, probably, to facilitate the rhyme) that put men on the moon, and later probes. He caps it all with an enticing suggestion: “We’ll need an astronaut (or two)— / so what do you think? Could it be YOU?” Cushley lines up a notably diverse array of prospective young space travelers for this finish, but anachronistic earlier views of a dark-skinned astronaut floating in orbit opposite poetic references to the dogs, cats, and other animals sent into space in the 1950s and a model of the space shuttle on a shelf next to a line of viewers watching the televised moon landing in 1969 show no great regard for verisimilitude. Also, his full-page opening picture of the Challenger, its ports painted to look like a smiley face, just moments before it blew up is a decidedly odd choice to illustrate the poem’s opening countdown. As with his cosmological lyric Once upon a Star (2018, illustrated by Mar Hernández), the poet closes with a page of further facts arranged as an acrostic.

Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68010-147-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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It’s not the most dramatic version, but it’s a visually effective and serviceable addition to the rapidly growing shelf of...

THE FIRST MEN WHO WENT TO THE MOON

A 50th-anniversary commemoration of the epochal Apollo 11 mission.

Modeling her account on “The House That Jack Built” (an unspoken, appropriate nod to President John F. Kennedy’s foundational role in the enterprise), Greene takes Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins from liftoff to post-splashdown ticker-tape parade. Side notes on some spreads and two pages of further facts with photographs at the end, all in smaller type, fill in select details about the mission and its historical context. The rhymed lines are fully cumulated only once, so there is some repetition but never enough to grow monotonous: “This is the Moon, a mysterious place, / a desolate land in the darkness of space, / far from Earth with oceans blue.” Also, the presentation of the text in just three or fewer lines per spread stretches out the narrative and gives Brundage latitude for both formal and informal group portraits of Apollo 11’s all-white crew, multiple glimpses of our planet and the moon at various heights, and, near the end, atmospheric (so to speak) views of the abandoned lander and boot prints in the lunar dust.

It’s not the most dramatic version, but it’s a visually effective and serviceable addition to the rapidly growing shelf of tributes to our space program’s high-water mark. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58536-412-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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