A pleasant but facile introduction to the important concept of seed dispersal.

SEEDS MOVE!

Page examines how seeds move from their parent plants to places where they can sprout and grow.

The simple prose relies on action verbs for punch, if not scientific accuracy: A seed may “hitchhike,” “catapult,” “parachute,” or even “plop”—in the poop of a berry-eating bear. Some spreads depict related actions: The large, buoyant seeds of the coconut palm and monkey-ladder vine can both drop into water and “drift” or “float” off, perhaps finding an auspicious shore for propagation. Particularly intriguing are seeds adapted in ways that encourage animals to mobilize them. Bloodroot seeds contain a morsel tasty to ants, which carry the seeds to their nest to eat and bury. The seeds of an unspecified African grass look and smell like antelope droppings, tricking dung beetles into rolling them underground. Farmers and gardeners are also acknowledged, and kids are encouraged to plant a watermelon seed “and see what happens.” Crisply delineated against white space, digital illustrations use color, texture, and form to depict striking, identifiable images that are nonetheless stylized rather than scientific. Some of Page’s choices in visual perspective may confound children curious about the sizes of seeds and animals. No geographical or biological information is provided for the plants and animals depicted—a missed opportunity to further engage young readers.

A pleasant but facile introduction to the important concept of seed dispersal. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0915-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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

STARRY SKIES

LEARN ABOUT THE CONSTELLATIONS ABOVE US

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.

GREEN MACHINE

THE SLIGHTLY GROSS TRUTH ABOUT TURNING YOUR FOOD SCRAPS INTO GREEN ENERGY

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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