These activities will get kids out and interacting with nature, but the science is disappointingly shallow.

HACK YOUR BACKYARD

DISCOVER A WORLD OF OUTSIDE FUN WITH SCIENCE BUDDIES

From the Science Buddies series

Some simple activities to get kids exploring the great outdoors in their own backyards.

Ahrens explains hacking your backyard as “Learn[ing] about nature’s processes by going outside and exploring the world around you. Find out how the natural world works with hands-on experiments.” An early spread gives some tips and safety info before any investigations begin. Then comes the fun: Eight activities have kids making a sewing-needle compass, telling the temperature by counting cricket chirps, exploring capillary action with carnations, testing ant deterrents, doing paper chromatography with fall leaves, discovering what habitats pill bugs like best, exploring the effect of light pollution on the night sky, and observing worms’ tunnels and behavior. Though Ahrens uses the term “experiments,” these are rather activities, as the scientific method is not explained or followed. At most, readers are asked to consider what they’ve observed, and the “Science Takeaway” boxes following each activity make this irrelevant, as they describe both what readers should have noticed (often with a photo) and the science behind the phenomenon. A couple of group photos show a diverse bunch of kids, though most of the activity pages show white children and white hands investigating. Up-close pics of insects are a big draw.

These activities will get kids out and interacting with nature, but the science is disappointingly shallow. (glossary, further information, index) (Nonfiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-3915-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lerner

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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This valiant attempt to storify and simplify a complex topic for elementary-aged children mostly succeeds.

PLASTIC

PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE

This Korean import explores a prevalent material in our daily lives.

Author Kim and illustrator Lee offer scenes to help kids digest the complex story of plastics. Plentiful illustrations describe production flows or act as seek-and-find challenges with examples of plastic objects around the home. For younger or emergent readers, many objects in the home scene are labeled to help build vocabulary or reinforce sight words. While the text explores some of the reasons plastic has become so enmeshed in our world, it does not fully confront the power of multinational oil companies or the international components of plastics recycling that evolve with each news cycle. However, refreshingly, plastics recycling is not presented as a catchall solution for single-use plastics. Readers are encouraged to reduce single-use plastic consumption, to learn about innovative solutions from scientists and activists, and to acknowledge that eliminating plastics use is unlikely. Illustrations of people throughout show varied skin tones consistent with the bold style used by the illustrator. The narrative format of the text, with three to five short paragraphs per page, and absence of table of contents, index, or cited backmatter make this more of a jumping-off point than a reference text. Open-ended questions throughout create natural breaks for discussion.

This valiant attempt to storify and simplify a complex topic for elementary-aged children mostly succeeds. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-950354-06-1

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Scribble

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Interesting, unusual choices for an invitation to a lifetime of travel for young explorers.

NATURAL WONDERS OF THE WORLD

From the Look Down and See series

A new way of looking at parts of the world with remarkable natural scenery.

From the Lofoten archipelago in Norway to Redwood National Park in California, a graphic designer and travel enthusiast offers young readers bird’s-eye views of a dozen remarkable destinations around the world in this series opener. The overhead perspective works well for Lord’s flat, digitally produced images, each filling a double-page spread. Informational text in colored boxes set directly on the pages introduces the area and points out some interesting details. Describing Lapland, the author introduces both the reindeer-herding Sami and the northern lights. The Grand Canyon yawns below tourists on the hanging skywalk bridge: “Scary!” On each spread, a small world map labeled by continents shows the general location with an arrow and dot. Readers are encouraged to look for small details with questions such as “How many zebras can you spot among the wildebeest?” shown crossing the Mara River in Tanzania. Answers are on the last page. Once in a while her perspective slips—most noticeably at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, where both the dugong and humphead wrasse are shown sideways. Other wonders celebrated include Victoria Falls in southern Africa, Arctic Alaska, Mount Everest, Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, the Tengger Caldera in Indonesia, and Lake Nakuru in Kenya.

Interesting, unusual choices for an invitation to a lifetime of travel for young explorers. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78240-921-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Ivy Kids

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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