Content takes a back seat to production value in this glossy, oversized, superficial survey of space exploration. De Goursac opens invitingly enough—“This is your universe. Let’s take off into space!” But then he launches a look at the history of rockets, the U.S. space program and past and present exploratory missions to the (nine) planets that is not only routine, but so ridden with generalities that he seldom even identifies the astronauts in the pictures. Laye decorates each single-topic spread with a crudely drawn vignette or two, but the main visual events are the undifferentiated arrays of big, dazzling space photos and dramatic artists’ renditions that dominate each opening. Tasty eye candy, to be sure, deserving more than a narrative that quaintly uses only the male pronoun, barely notes that the space effort is international, and, when it comes to Pluto “and Beyond,” presents now-outdated information. The last may hardly be the author’s fault, but it weakens the appeal even further—as does the lack of an index or any leads to further resources. At best, a candidate for low-browsing orbit. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-8109-5719-1

Page Count: 78

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2006

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The Pumpkin Book (32 pp.; $16.95; Sept. 15; 0-8234-1465-5): From seed to vine and blossom to table, Gibbons traces the growth cycle of everyone’s favorite autumn symbol—the pumpkin. Meticulous drawings detail the transformation of tiny seeds to the colorful gourds that appear at roadside stands and stores in the fall. Directions for planting a pumpkin patch, carving a jack-o’-lantern, and drying the seeds give young gardeners the instructions they need to grow and enjoy their own golden globes. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 1999

ISBN: 0-8234-1465-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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Remarking that ``nothing about the weather is very simple,'' Simon goes on to describe how the sun, atmosphere, earth's rotation, ground cover, altitude, pollution, and other factors influence it; briefly, he also tells how weather balloons gather information. Even for this outstanding author, it's a tough, complex topic, and he's not entirely successful in simplifying it; moreover, the import of the striking uncaptioned color photos here isn't always clear. One passage—``Cumulus clouds sometimes build up into towering masses called cumulus congestus, or swelling cumulus, which may turn into cumulonimbus clouds''—is superimposed on a blue-gray, cloud-covered landscape. But which kind of clouds are these? Another photo, in blue-black and white, shows what might be precipitation in the upper atmosphere, or rain falling on a darkened landscape, or...? Generally competent and certainly attractive, but not Simon's best. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-688-10546-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1993

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