A mixed bag of vibrant artwork, silly rhymes, and a spark of curiosity, best enjoyed in a cozy lap.


In this follow-up to Cats Are a Liquid (2019), Donnelly and Saburi invite budding scientists to ponder further.

It is a trope of physical comedy that banana peels are comically and catastrophically slippery, but how slippery are they, really? Inspired by the real-life experiments of Japanese scientist Kiyoshi Mabuchi, Donnelly compares banana peels to a wide variety of materials that move, slide, and glide. From lava flows and jelly wobbles to their namesake, the banana slug, fluids, friction, and even fashion are explored with smiling, anthropomorphic banana peels and a bevy of diverse young scientists all along the way. Saburi’s round-headed and dot-eyed cartoon children and comical bananas are delightful, and the liquid cats even make an appearance. As with its predecessor, the text can often stray into nonsense (“Is a squid a banana that dives in the deep?”). While the illustrations are adorable and animated, the questions posed and comparisons made in the rhyming text are sometimes only tenuously tied to banana peels. Rather, the banana peel seems to be an arbitrary vehicle to introduce many unrelated experiments, from rocketry to botany. Because of this, though the text is simple and encourages a brisk pace, the spreads are best enjoyed when explored together with an adult who can call attention to these details. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at 39.1% of actual size.)

A mixed bag of vibrant artwork, silly rhymes, and a spark of curiosity, best enjoyed in a cozy lap. (author's note, activity) (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-25686-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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So rocket science can be fun.



From the Baby Loves… series

What do you want to be when you grow up?

If they haven’t already thought about their futures (and they probably haven’t), toddlers and preschoolers might start planning after perusing this cheerful first guide to scientific careers. Plump-cheeked, wide-eyed tykes with various skin and hair colors introduce different professions, including zoologist, meteorologist, aerospace engineer, and environmental scientist, depicted with cues to tip readers off to what the jobs entail. The simple text presents the sometimes-long, tongue-twisting career names while helpfully defining them in comprehensible terms. For example, an environmental scientist “helps take care of our world,” and a zoologist is defined as someone who “studies how animals behave.” Scientists in general are identified as those who “study, learn, and solve problems.” Such basic language not only benefits youngsters, but also offers adults sharing the book easy vocabulary with which to expand on conversations with kids about the professions. The title’s ebullient appearance is helped along by the typography: The jobs’ names are set in all caps, printed in color and in a larger font than the surrounding text, and emphasized with exclamation points. Additionally, the buoyant watercolors feature clues to what scientists in these fields work with, such as celestial bodies for astronomers. The youngest listeners won’t necessarily get all of this, but the book works as a rudimentary introduction to STEM topics and a shoutout to scientific endeavors.

So rocket science can be fun. (Informational picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62354-149-1

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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Adults looking for an easy entry into this subject will not be disappointed.


From the Baby University series

This book presents a simplified explanation of the role the atmosphere plays in controlling climate.

The authors present a planet as a ball and its atmosphere as a blanket that envelops the ball. If the blanket is thick, the planet will be hot, as is the case for Venus. If the blanket is thin, the planet is cold, as with Mars. Planet Earth has a blanket that traps “just the right amount of heat.” The authors explain trees, animals, and oceans are part of what makes Earth’s atmosphere “just right.” “But…Uh-oh! People on Earth are changing the blanket!” The book goes on to explain how some human activities are sending “greenhouse gases” into the atmosphere, thus “making the blanket heavier and thicker” and “making Earth feel unwell.” In the case of a planet feeling unwell, what would the symptoms be? Sea-level rises that lead to erosion, flooding, and island loss, along with extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, blizzards, and wildfires. Ending on a constructive note, the authors name a few of the remedies to “help our Earth before it’s too late!” By using the blanket analogy, alongside simple and clear illustrations, this otherwise complex topic becomes very accessible to young children, though caregivers will need to help with the specialized vocabulary.

Adults looking for an easy entry into this subject will not be disappointed. (Board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8082-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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