Constrained verse distracts from timely, basic information about transforming food into fuel.

GREEN MACHINE

THE SLIGHTLY GROSS TRUTH ABOUT TURNING YOUR FOOD SCRAPS INTO GREEN ENERGY

An introduction to the innovative (and smelly) processes that turn municipal food waste into electrical energy.

Donnelly follows the journey of food scraps from kitchen through composting bin and collection truck to a municipal digester, where the waste undergoes both human-engineered and microbe-assisted transformations. The author subjects her text to syllabic verse in rhymed triplets, a choice that places meter above clarity. Describing the digester, she writes: “A place where the waste / isn’t wasted: a tank / with the power to power our town, / where trash becomes gas, / and good riddance—that stank! / That’s the power of food breaking down.” Jacques’ illustrations adopt a retro, mid-20th-century look. Cutaways reveal the simplified inner works of the digester tank and electrical generator. Diverse workers are depicted in rather static poses; the featured family members have dark hair, varied brown skin tones, and minimally rendered, dot-and-comma facial features. “Tiny” microbes appear as large, colorful critters with googly eyes and smiles; there’s no indication that in reality they’re invisible to human eyes. A double-page summary (“Follow the Food Energy!”) reuses illustrations from previous pages to illustrate the food-to-electricity process. Within two concluding pages of facts, fossil fuels are characterized as “nonrenewable,” without mention of their dominant role in the climate crisis.

Constrained verse distracts from timely, basic information about transforming food into fuel. (further reading) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-30406-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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Just the ticket to spark or nurture early interest in the wonders of the natural world.

EXTREME SURVIVORS

From the American Museum of Natural History Easy Readers series

“Extreme” gets a broad definition (ticks?), but the first-rate photographs and easy-to-read commentary in this survey of animals adapted to harsh habitats will win over budding naturalists.

Sixteen creatures ranging from hot-springs bacteria and the tiny but nearly invulnerable water bear to sperm whales parade past, sandwiched between an introductory spread and a full gallery of thumbnails that works as a content review. The animals are presented in an ordered way that expedites comparisons and contrasts of body features or environments. The sharply reproduced individual stock photos were all taken in the wild and include a mix of close-up portraits, slightly longer shots that show surroundings and more distant eyewitness views. The Roops present concrete facts in simple language—“Penguins have feathers and thick fat to keep them warm”—and vary the structures of their two- to four-sentence passages so that there is never a trace of monotony. Like its co-published and equally inviting title, Melissa Stewart’s World’s Fastest Animals, this otherwise polished series entry closes with a marginally relevant small-type profile of a herpetologist at the American Museum of Natural History.

Just the ticket to spark or nurture early interest in the wonders of the natural world. (Informational early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4549-0631-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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A useful title on a kid-friendly topic.

AND THAT'S THE TOOTH

Guess each animal from facts about their teeth combined with hints about their behavior, location, or anatomy.

A large white speech bubble appears on each recto page, mostly obscuring a photo of an animal. A statement about that animal’s teeth (or lack thereof, in the cases of anteaters and humpback whales) is followed by a hint about the animal’s traits to facilitate guessing. For example, “You can tell how old I am by the growth rings on my teeth. I am… / Hint: I live in water and am smart and social.” Bits of animals visible around the speech bubble also offer some clues. Some kids may have the answer; many young children will not. The page turn reveals a full-page photo, the animal’s name (dolphin, in this case) in large type, and a callout box with facts about its dental characteristics: “Bottlenose dolphins only get one set of teeth for their entire lives. They use their teeth to catch their food, and then they swallow it whole.” The book matter-of-factly introduces information about 11 land and sea animals as well as a human representative, a young child with Asian features. Backmatter defines herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores along with a short guessing game about these categories and presents a diagram of the human mouth with descriptions of its teeth. The full-color stock photos vary in quality. (Due to Covid complications, this book will publish in paperback on pub date and in hardcover in Jan. 2021.)

A useful title on a kid-friendly topic. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64351-818-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Arbordale

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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