THE SECRET CODE INSIDE YOU

ALL ABOUT YOUR DNA

A solid introduction to a complex topic.

Operating on three levels, this book will help readers crack their own secret codes.

As they begin their exploration of the concept of DNA, the youngest listeners will be drawn in with questions featuring fun animals and text with internal and end rhymes, alliteration, and puns. “Why aren’t you finny like a fish, / or grinny like a shark? / Why can’t you catch flies with your tongue, / or / see / things / in / the / dark?” Describing DNA as “twisted ladders, or tiny, twirling noodles” creates accessible concrete images for children. The science ramps up for slightly older readers and discusses how personal traits like height or the size of a child’s nose, ears, or hands are determined by the DNA that parents and grandparents share with their children. Definitions and explanations of key vocabulary like genes and chromosomes are clear, but the rhyming format creates the occasional awkward phrase. Dynamic and eye-catching illustrations on later pages emphasize the difference between genetic coding and each person’s unique choices. “[DNA] makes the color of your eyes, / but YOU choose where to look: / at butterflies or sunset skies, / or even at this book.” Personal choice also determines how someone uses their muscles and chooses an occupation. For older readers or the more science curious, the backmatter is full of DNA facts and explanations, URLs to child-friendly websites, and a well-designed and -explained experiment to extract DNA from a banana.

A solid introduction to a complex topic. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4998-1075-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

BUTT OR FACE?

A gleeful game for budding naturalists.

Artfully cropped animal portraits challenge viewers to guess which end they’re seeing.

In what will be a crowd-pleasing and inevitably raucous guessing game, a series of close-up stock photos invite children to call out one of the titular alternatives. A page turn reveals answers and basic facts about each creature backed up by more of the latter in a closing map and table. Some of the posers, like the tail of an okapi or the nose on a proboscis monkey, are easy enough to guess—but the moist nose on a star-nosed mole really does look like an anus, and the false “eyes” on the hind ends of a Cuyaba dwarf frog and a Promethea moth caterpillar will fool many. Better yet, Lavelle saves a kicker for the finale with a glimpse of a small parasitical pearlfish peeking out of a sea cucumber’s rear so that the answer is actually face and butt. “Animal identification can be tricky!” she concludes, noting that many of the features here function as defenses against attack: “In the animal world, sometimes your butt will save your face and your face just might save your butt!” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gleeful game for budding naturalists. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781728271170

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023

ECLIPSE

Sure to have readers booking their own trips to catch the next brief but memorable solar eclipse.

A total solar eclipse brings a father and son closer together.

After learning in school about the eclipse’s impending arrival, a curious young boy excitedly figures out the best time and place to see it. His father agrees to transport him to the woods to view the eclipse, and the child describes everything that happens at various points—two months before the eclipse, then a month, a week, a day, an hour, a minute, and the exciting second before the sun slips behind the moon. Time seems to stand still, and the creatures in the woods are baffled by what appears to be an early nightfall. Then the countdown begins again, with the boy describing what happens after the eclipse—one second, one minute, one hour, one day, one year, and even longer. The moment has become a shared memory that enhances the bond between father and son and inspires future eclipse-chasing expeditions. Based on the author’s actual experience with his own son in 2017, this picture book features lively, child-friendly digital artwork filled with scenes of nature, matter-of-fact text that acknowledges the awesomeness of this rare phenomenon, and useful maps that chart the solar eclipse of 2017 and projected paths for future eclipses. Father and son are light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sure to have readers booking their own trips to catch the next brief but memorable solar eclipse. (more information on eclipses) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781338608823

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2023

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