This consciousness-raiser downplays the more frightening prospects in favor of a mildly cautionary message.

CHEMICAL WORLD

SCIENCE IN OUR DAILY LIVES

Simple explanations of what chemicals are and why some (but not all) deserve a bad rap.

Starting out with the observation that “everything on our planet is made of chemicals,” Rae first looks at her own morning routine. She invites readers to wonder along with her what all those ingredients in her shampoo and toothpaste are as well what the environmental costs of growing and processing her breakfast food, or throwing away that teabag and milk container, might be. She then goes on to explain some differences between natural and synthetic chemicals, with special references to plastic and DDT, and to trace the course of contaminants up the food chain. She briefly mentions disasters such as the Love Canal and Bhopal, along with more-insidious dangers like lead poisoning, before closing on a relatively upbeat note with general advice about “greener” practices and attitudes. Though her presentation is simple enough that the only formulas in sight are decorative elements in the margins, she does define significant terms like “chemical reaction” and also gives young eco-activists a leg up on the uses and dangers of classes of chemicals from parabens to PCBs. Family groups and smiling children of diverse nationality and ethnicity feature prominently in the cramped but colorful photos along with glimpses of idyllic natural scenes and wildlife.

This consciousness-raiser downplays the more frightening prospects in favor of a mildly cautionary message. (glossary, index, resources) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2157-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge, certain to inspire deep thoughts.

YOUR PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE

From a Caldecott and Sibert honoree, an invitation to take a mind-expanding journey from the surface of our planet to the furthest reaches of the observable cosmos.

Though Chin’s assumption that we are even capable of understanding the scope of the universe is quixotic at best, he does effectively lead viewers on a journey that captures a sense of its scale. Following the model of Kees Boeke’s classic Cosmic View: The Universe in Forty Jumps (1957), he starts with four 8-year-old sky watchers of average height (and different racial presentations). They peer into a telescope and then are comically startled by the sudden arrival of an ostrich that is twice as tall…and then a giraffe that is over twice as tall as that…and going onward and upward, with ellipses at each page turn connecting the stages, past our atmosphere and solar system to the cosmic web of galactic superclusters. As he goes, precisely drawn earthly figures and features in the expansive illustrations give way to ever smaller celestial bodies and finally to glimmering swirls of distant lights against gulfs of deep black before ultimately returning to his starting place. A closing recap adds smaller images and additional details. Accompanying the spare narrative, valuable side notes supply specific lengths or distances and define their units of measure, accurately explain astronomical phenomena, and close with the provocative observation that “the observable universe is centered on us, but we are not in the center of the entire universe.”

A stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge, certain to inspire deep thoughts. (afterword, websites, further reading) (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4623-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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