Quick but wide-angled overviews.

PLANTS!

From the Explorer series

Highlights in the long history of plants, from primeval algae to genetically modified rice.

Ada Osprey, intrepid librarian of the Eagle-Eyed Explorer Club, invites readers to tag along as she travels back in time, busily taking notes. Sounding rather a lot like lectures, these cover the distinctive characteristics of plants, how cyanobacteria kicked off plant evolution by embedding themselves in other single-celled organisms, the development in plants of different strategies for survival and reproduction, the invention of agriculture, and finally our use and misuse of fossil fuels and other plant-based products. Along the way six “plant Explorers” such as geneticist Gregor Mendel and botanical illustrator Marianne North earn short profiles. Following a pair of review quizzes (answers, refreshingly, not provided in a separate key) she presents the survey’s special feature—a one-sided, 6-foot-long, accordion-folded timeline studded with painted depictions of around 100 identified specimens, select landmark events such as the K-T extinction and the appearance of an early farmer (wielding, anachronistically, a metal sickle) and explanatory captions. Ada has brown skin and long, dark hair. A similar timeline graces the co-published Mammals!, with a gallery of hominins (all male, brown-skinned, and, with the exception of a downright dapper Homo habilis, unkempt) marching amid a throng of smiling, now-extinct prehistoric contemporary creatures.

Quick but wide-angled overviews. (index, glossary) (Novelty nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-995-5770-8-4

Page Count: 38

Publisher: What on Earth Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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A classic story of outsiders making friends—with a little something more.

LONG DISTANCE

After moving to a new city, a girl attends a wilderness camp to help her make new friends.

When astronomy-obsessed 9-year-old Vega’s dad Wes gets a new job, the family moves from Portland to Seattle. Vega is not happy about this change and doesn’t want to leave her best friend behind, worrying they will grow apart. Vega’s dad Javi thinks making new friends will help her adjust, so he signs her up for Camp Very Best Friend, which is designed to help introverted local children build new friendships. Vega is not exactly eager to go but makes a deal with Wes, agreeing to try out camp as long as he tries to make a new friend too. It quickly becomes clear that this is no ordinary outdoor adventure, and Vega and her fellow campers try to figure out what is really going on. The story smoothly incorporates STEM facts with insets on the page to define and highlight terms or tools. An unexpected twist toward the end of this fast-paced adventure that reveals the truth behind the camp will surprise readers. The clean, bright artwork is enhanced by panels of varying shapes and clear, easy-to-follow speech bubbles. Race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation are not explicitly addressed; characters’ names and physical appearances indicate a broadly diverse cast starting with brown-skinned Vega and her two dads.

A classic story of outsiders making friends—with a little something more. (Graphic fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5566-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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A rare chance to shine for the former ninth planet.

PLUTO'S SECRET

AN ICY WORLD'S TALE OF DISCOVERY

Is it a planet? A dwarf planet? What’s up with that mysterious body that, even in our best telescopes, floats tantalizingly at the edge of visibility?

Pairing a lighthearted narrative in a hand-lettered–style typeface with informally drawn cartoon illustrations, this lively tale of astronomical revelations begins with the search for “Planet X.” It then sweeps past Pluto’s first sighting by Clyde Tombaugh and its naming by 11-year-old Venetia Burney to the later discovery of more icy worlds—both in our solar system’s Kuiper belt and orbiting other stars. Meanwhile, sailing along with a smug expression, the mottled orange planetoid is “busy dancing with its moons. / Cha-cha / Cha-cha-cha” and Kuiper buddies as it waits for Earth’s astronomers to realize at last that it’s different from the other planets (“BINGO!”) and needs a new classification. Ceres inexplicably rates no entry in the gallery of dwarf planets, and the closing glossary isn’t exactly stellar (“World: Any object in space”), but fans of Basher’s postmodern science surveys will feel right at home with the buoyant mix of personification and hard fact.

A rare chance to shine for the former ninth planet. (photos and additional detail, “Note from the Museum,” suggested reading, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0423-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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