Another STEAM winner.

READ REVIEW

TO THE MOON

From the Sydney & Simon series

The STEAM twins are back in a new adventure (Go Green!, 2015, etc.), this time competing against each other to win a chance to meet famous astronaut Cmdr. Kris Kornfield.

As soon as she spies the poster announcing the contest, creative, artsy Sydney has her idea—a 3-D model of the moon—and for a change, she isn’t sharing it with her twin: she wants to win more than she wants to team with her brother. Simon is rather at loose ends on his own but makes observations and does research about the moon each night, educating readers about its phases and introducing solid science vocabulary. The mouse twins’ parents subtly try to point out the two are missing critical pieces, but it’s not until Ms. Fractalini introduces them to the work of Galileo that the twins see what’s missing. Now a team, they use a homemade telescope to make observations and the 3-D printer in the Makerspace Lab of their public library to print an accurate puzzle of the moon’s phases. Their classmates’ projects don’t all combine all the STEAM elements: there’s a poem, a crater model, a spaceship model, and a toothpick house that might someday be built on the moon. In this outing, the Reynoldses make Simon and Sydney a bit more kidlike than in prior outings, with their flaws and their enthusiasm. The learning readers will pick up about the moon is virtually painless, and Cmdr. Kornfield’s reveal is a nice touch.

Another STEAM winner. (glossary, note) (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58089-679-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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A floral fantasia for casual browsers as well as budding botanists.

THE BIG BOOK OF BLOOMS

Spirited illustrations brighten a large-format introduction to flowers and their pollinators.

Showing a less Eurocentric outlook than in his Big Book of Birds (2019), Zommer employs agile brushwork and a fondness for graceful lines and bright colors to bring to life bustling bouquets from a range of habitats, from rainforest to desert. Often switching from horizontal to vertical orientations, the topical spreads progress from overviews of major floral families and broad looks at plant anatomy and reproduction to close-ups of select flora—roses and tulips to Venus flytraps and stinking flowers. The book then closes with a shoutout to the conservators and other workers at Kew Gardens (this is a British import) and quick suggestions for young balcony or windowsill gardeners. In most of the low-angled scenes, fancifully drawn avian or insect pollinators with human eyes hover around all the large, luscious blooms, as do one- or two-sentence comments that generally add cogent observations or insights: “All parts of the deadly nightshade plant contain poison. It has been used to poison famous emperors, kings and warriors throughout history.” (Confusingly for the audience, the accurate but limited assertion that bees “often visit blue or purple flowers” appears to be contradicted by an adjacent view of several zeroing in on a yellow toadflax.) Human figures, or, in one scene, hands, are depicted in a variety of sizes, shapes, and skin colors.

A floral fantasia for casual browsers as well as budding botanists. (glossary, index) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-500-65199-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A bubble-gum crowd pleaser with wide audience appeal.

OLGA AND THE SMELLY THING FROM NOWHERE

From the Olga series , Vol. 1

A young girl who prefers science to people discovers an adorable and smelly little creature.

With an inquisitive mind and a dark teardrop-shaped swoop of hair, Olga may not have many friends, but she loves animals and thinks even their "farts are cute." She studies them and carefully transcribes her observations; she hopes someday to hang out with Jane Goodall. When she hears a scary rumble in her trash can, Olga discovers Meh, a pudgy, smelly creature that she describes as a "cross between an inflated hamster and a potato drawn by a three-year-old." Like any good scientist-in-training, she observes Meh, trying to discern his habits and his diet. When Meh goes missing, Olga must recruit actual people to help her find him—including two pop-star–obsessed girls she calls "The Lalas," a friendly boy with a tall scribble of hair and an incontinent dog, a punk-rock librarian, and a goofy but helpful shopkeeper. Gravel's tale is a visually interesting mix of illustration and story, punctuated by numerous lists, comic panels, and cartoon diagrams and led by a smart female protagonist. Covering everything from zoology to poop jokes, Gravel has painted her tale with a broad brush that should render this an easy sell to most young readers. The human characters all have paper-white skin, and there is no other cueing of racial difference.

A bubble-gum crowd pleaser with wide audience appeal. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-235126-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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