A breezy, buoyant bucketful of atmospheric basics.


A cloud experiences the ups and downs of the water cycle.

In a minimalist narrative attached to bright, very simple cartoon scenes in which everything from our nearest star to the tiniest water droplets sports a smiley face, Hodgson personifies but otherwise accurately represents natural processes. Sun (“I’m hot stuff!”) warms a lake so that evaporated drops rise and gather into Cloud, which, driven by a friend named Wind that “loves to blow warm air to cold places,” passes over mountains and under airplanes. When droplets cool off enough, they link up into geometrical flakes (“This is snow much fun!”), pack in until they fall as raindrops, or rub together to build up an electrical charge: “BOOM.” Clouds can gather from all over, then split up again (“Adiós!” “Sayonara!” “Jal gayo!”) after a storm while Sun shows off “a neat trick”: “RAINBOW!” The fleecy, blue-eyed wanderer returns at last to the lake…just in time for a meet-cute with a newly formed, pink-eyed compatriot. “Hi! I’m Cloud. What’s your name?” Younger cloud watchers drawn by the artless tone and the (literally) vivacious illustrations, which resemble tissue-paper collage enhanced with occasional brushwork, will be well set up to dive into deeper treatments of the topic, such as Antonia Banyard and Paula Ayer’s Water Wow! illustrated by Belle Wuthrich (2016). The small human figures visible in some scenes appear diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-14.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 90% of actual size.)

A breezy, buoyant bucketful of atmospheric basics. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-22491-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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A promising approach—but too underpowered to reach orbital velocity.



Young earthlings turn starry skies into playscapes in this first look at constellations.

On a page first glimpsed through a big die-cut hole in the front cover, Chagollan promises that stars “tell a thousand stories.” She goes on to describe brief scenarios in which residents of Earth interact with 15 Northern Hemisphere constellations. These range from Benjamin’s battle with a fierce dragon beneath Draco to a trio of unnamed ducklings who use the Swan to “find their way home.” Six further starry clusters bearing only labels are crowded into the final spread. In illustrations composed of thin white lines on matte black backgrounds (the characters formed by the stars are glossy), Aye colors significant stars yellow, connects them with dots, and encloses them in outlines of mythological figures that are as simply drawn as the animals and humans (and mermaid) below. As a practical introduction, this has little to offer budding sky watchers beyond a limited set of constellations—two, the Big Dipper and the Summer Triangle, are not official constellations at all but classified as asterisms—that are inconsistently labeled in Latin or English or both. Despite a closing invitation to go out and “find these stars in the sky,” the book provides no sky maps or verbal guidelines that would make that actually possible.

A promising approach—but too underpowered to reach orbital velocity. (Informational picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63322-509-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walter Foster Jr.

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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



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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