More stumble than stroll, with a storyline too perfunctory to add any nuance to the instructional content.

READ REVIEW

A WALK ON THE SHORELINE

On a seaside perambulation, an Inuit lad encounters starfish and seaweed, watches fish and clams being harvested, and looks forward to an annual family gathering at his grandparents’ camp.

Up from his adoptive home in Ottawa for a summer with his biological family in Nunavut (no further explanation is forthcoming), Nukappia sets out from town with his uncle, who provides explanatory lectures as they go. “Seaweed is not only delicious, it’s also used as medicine. It has lots of nutrients and minerals….” The prose doesn’t get any less artificial as the two proceed. Nukappia is “excited to see two of his cousins, whom he hadn’t seen since last summer,” and exclaims, “I didn’t know you could catch clams through a crack in the sea ice!” Still, Hainnu lays in a digestible sequence of locally specific natural and cultural sights before bringing her walkers to their destination (where Nukappia’s “many cousins were spread around the campsite, playing with rocks near the shore”). Then, as in companion outing A Walk on the Tundra (2011), she appends small photos of all the plants, animals, and Inuit artifacts encountered on the fictional nature walk and provides additional scientific notes and observations. These last are more attention-worthy than the infodumps in the story, and the photos are more informative than Leng’s generic, cartoon illustrations.

More stumble than stroll, with a storyline too perfunctory to add any nuance to the instructional content. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-77227024-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Inhabit Media

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

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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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The story feels a bit contrived, but Ada will be a welcome addition to the small circle of science-loving girls in the...

ADA LACE, ON THE CASE

From the Ada Lace series , Vol. 1

Using science and technology, third-grader Ada Lace kicks off her new series by solving a mystery even with her leg in a cast.

Temporarily housebound after a badly executed bungee jump, Ada uses binoculars to document the ecosystem of her new neighborhood in San Francisco. She records her observations in a field journal, a project that intrigues new friend Nina, who lives nearby. When they see that Ms. Reed’s dog, Marguerite, is missing, they leap to the conclusion that it has been stolen. Nina does the legwork and Ada provides the technology for their search for the dognapper. Story-crafting takes a back seat to scene-setting in this series kickoff that introduces the major players. As part of the series formula, science topics and gadgetry are integrated into the stories and further explained in a “Behind the Science” afterword. This installment incorporates drones, a wireless camera, gecko gloves, and the Turing test as well as the concept of an ecosystem. There are no ethnic indicators in the text, but the illustrations reveal that Ada, her family, and bratty neighbor Milton are white; Nina appears to be Southeast Asian; and Mr. Peebles, an inventor who lives nearby, is black.

The story feels a bit contrived, but Ada will be a welcome addition to the small circle of science-loving girls in the chapter-book world. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8599-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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