THE BOOK OF AMAZING TREES

From France, an encyclopedic encomium to trees.

Five chapters are further broken down into double-page spreads with headlined text and many labeled illustrations. The first chapter (“Amazing Plants”) is engrossing and scientific except for the glaring contradiction in this glib subheading: “Trees are plants that tower high in the sky.” Why glaring? Directly next to it are three finely detailed, labeled drawings of heather, gorse, and hazelnut. Their subheading is “Trees grow in every size!”—and, indeed, heather’s maximum height of 3 feet emphasizes a height range that dips far below “towering.” The rest of the double-page spread includes an excellent list of five characteristics that distinguish trees from other plants; an appealing sidebar explaining why palm and bamboo are not trees; and a detailed illustration of an English oak with arrows pointing out basic components. Throughout, text and layout are accessible and engaging, with a variety that includes straight facts about leaves, growth, reproduction, and communication, as well as activities such as multiple-choice quizzes and directions to figure out a tree’s height. The art is a great boon, exuding an aura of reverence in its careful details and coloration. Interspersed seek-and-find pages are an exemplary collaboration of art and text that encourages readers to use observation skills to learn additional arboreal information. Pretty double-page spreads show specific sites with labeled trees. Below, details from the scene accompany questions such as, “Which tree doesn’t let anything grow at its base?”

Worthy leafing. (contents, index, answers) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-61689-971-4

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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Science at its best: informative and gross.

DO NOT LICK THIS BOOK

Why not? Because “IT’S FULL OF GERMS.”

Of course, Ben-Barak rightly notes, so is everything else—from your socks to the top of Mount Everest. Just to demonstrate, he invites readers to undertake an exploratory adventure (only partly imaginary): First touch a certain seemingly blank spot on the page to pick up a microbe named Min, then in turn touch teeth, shirt, and navel to pick up Rae, Dennis, and Jake. In the process, readers watch crews of other microbes digging cavities (“Hey kid, brush your teeth less”), spreading “lovely filth,” and chowing down on huge rafts of dead skin. For the illustrations, Frost places dialogue balloons and small googly-eyed cartoon blobs of diverse shape and color onto Rundgren’s photographs, taken using a scanning electron microscope, of the fantastically rugged surfaces of seemingly smooth paper, a tooth, textile fibers, and the jumbled crevasses in a belly button. The tour concludes with more formal introductions and profiles for Min and the others: E. coli, Streptococcus, Aspergillus niger, and Corynebacteria. “Where will you take Min tomorrow?” the author asks teasingly. Maybe the nearest bar of soap.

Science at its best: informative and gross. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17536-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders.

THE BIG BOOK OF THE BLUE

Denizens of the deep crowd oversized pages in this populous gallery of ocean life.

The finny and tentacled sea creatures drifting or arrowing through Zommer’s teeming watercolor seascapes are generally recognizable, and they are livened rather than distorted by the artist’s tendency to place human eyes on the same side of many faces, Picasso-like. Headers such as “Ink-teresting” or “In for the krill” likewise add a playful tone to the pithy comments on anatomical features or behavioral quirks that accompany the figures (which include, though rarely, a white human diver). The topical spreads begin with an overview of ocean families (“Some are hairy, some have scales, some have fins and some are boneless and brainless!”), go on to introduce select animals in no particular order from sea horses and dragonets to penguins and pufferfish, then close with cautionary remarks on chemical pollution and floating plastic. The author invites readers as they go to find both answers to such questions as “Why does a crab run sideways?” and also a small sardine hidden in some, but not all, of the pictures. For the latter he provides a visual key at the end, followed by a basic glossary.

A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders. (index) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-500-65119-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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