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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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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A cool concept a tad undermined by geographical overreach.


Dandelion seeds travel the world.

The story opens on an urban scene (possibly Cape Town) of a Black child whimsically blowing a dandelion, one fluffy seed floating “far, far away” to an undisclosed African plain. The book continues to describe the manner in which the seeds travel with the repeated refrain “swish, swirl, one hundred seeds fly.” The seeds are carried far and wide: one on the ear of a cheetah, another hitchhiking on a pant leg across the sea, a third in a bird’s droppings. The Howdeshells’ art is vibrant and engaging, taking care to include a diverse array of human racial presentations and details that establish each setting, the textured images focusing on indigenous fauna as the seeds fly. Of particular note is the lovely cover depicting a Black girl with natural hair. The seeds travel to Asia, Australia, North America, South America, and Europe. The entire globe is covered, including Antarctica, stretching a bit to match the conceit. An author’s note claims that “even chilly Antarctica has dandelions on the shoreline of South Georgia Island” as evidence for the plant’s reach to all seven continents. Whether South Georgia Island is part of Antarctica is arguable; it’s too bad the book makes this bland assertion. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 20.8% of actual size.)

A cool concept a tad undermined by geographical overreach. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5341-1053-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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