A tad rough around the edges but, visually, at least, a keeper.

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RED ROVER

CURIOSITY ON MARS

A planet's-eye view of some recent visitors from Earth—one in particular.

In measured, deceptively solemn prose, the narrator (Mars itself, as eventually revealed) gets off to a shaky start, observing that the rover rolls on and on, making straight tracks that confusingly become a tangle on the next page. Things settle down thereafter: “It observes. Measures. Collects. It is always looking for water. Maybe it is thirsty.” Roy matches the tone with a set of broad, rugged, achingly remote-looking Mars-scapes that culminate in a wildly swirling dust storm followed by a huge double gatefold: “Everything is… / RED as far as the eye can see. But it is beautiful.” Curiosity itself she depicts with almost clinical precision (though its wheels look different from different angles), adding a schematic view at the end with select parts and instruments labeled. Following playful nods to other rovers along the way (Spirit and Opportunity “had a spirit of adventure and seized every opportunity to explore”), a substantial quantity of backmatter includes more information about each one—including the next one up, Mars 2020—as well as about the fourth planet itself. For audience appeal it’s hard to beat Markus Motum’s cheerfully anthropomorphic Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover (2018), but the art here, in adding a certain grandeur and mystery to the red planet, has an appeal of its own.

A tad rough around the edges but, visually, at least, a keeper. (bibliography) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-19833-4

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Together with its companions, too rushed to be first introductions but suitable as second ones.

MARIE CURIE AND RADIOACTIVITY

From the Graphic Science Biographies series

A highlights reel of the great scientist’s life and achievements, from clandestine early schooling to the founding of Warsaw’s Radium Institute.

In big sequential panels Bayarri dashes through Curie’s career, barely pausing at significant moments (“Mother! A letter just arrived. It’s from Sweden,” announces young Irène. “Oh, really?…They’re awarding me another Nobel!”) in a seeming rush to cover her youth, family life, discoveries, World War I work, and later achievements (with only a closing timeline noting her death, of “aplastic anemia”). Button-eyed but recognizable figures in the panels pour out lecture-ish dialogue. This is well stocked with names and scientific terms but offered with little or no context—characteristics shared by co-published profiles on Albert Einstein and the Theory of Relativity (“You and your thought experiments, Albert!” “We love it! The other day, Schrödinger thought up one about a cat”), Charles Darwin and the Theory of Evolution, and Isaac Newton and the Laws of Motion. Dark-skinned Tierra del Fuegans make appearances in Darwin, prompting the young naturalist to express his strong anti-slavery views; otherwise the cast is white throughout the series. Engagingly informal as the art and general tone of the narratives are, the books will likely find younger readers struggling to keep up, but kids already exposed to the names and at least some of the concepts will find these imports, translated from the Basque, helpful if, at times, dry overviews.

Together with its companions, too rushed to be first introductions but suitable as second ones. (glossary, index, resource list) (Graphic biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-7821-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Graphic Universe

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A sketchy teaser in search of an audience.

EDDIE THE ELECTRON MOVES OUT

From the Eddie the Electron series , Vol. 2

A subatomic narrator describes how helium, a nonrenewable resource, is formed deep underground.

The very simple cartoon style of the illustrations suggests a breezier ride than the scientifically challenging content delivers. With much reliance on explanatory endnotes, Rooney sends her zippy narrator—newly freed from a popped balloon (see Eddie the Electron, 2015)—barreling its way past billions of nitrogen and oxygen atoms to the top of the atmosphere. Eddie describes how uranium and thorium trapped in the newly formed planet’s crust self-destructed to leave helium as a stable byproduct. Billions of tedious years later (“I thought I would die of pair annihilation!”) that helium was extracted for a wide variety of industrial uses. Following mentions of Einstein and how Eddie is mysteriously connected to other atoms “in a way that surpasses space and time,” the popeyed purple particle floats off with a plea to cut down on the party balloons to conserve a rare element. Younger readers may find this last notion easier to latch onto than the previous dose of physics, which is seriously marred both by the vague allusions and by Eddie’s identification as a helium atom rather than the free electron that his portrayals in the art, not to mention his moniker, indicate.

A sketchy teaser in search of an audience. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-944995-14-0

Page Count: 27

Publisher: Amberjack Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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