MASTERPIECE MIX

A handsome and satisfying companion to Market Maze (2015).

Looking for a fresh and inviting introduction to academic painting genres such as still life, portrait, or landscape? Why not bring readers inside an artist’s studio (perhaps author/illustrator Munro’s own?) and actually show them the process?

Munro begins with preparations to paint: stretching and gessoing canvas, selecting the right tubes of colors, choosing brushes, palette knives, and solvents, setting up a palette for painting, and so on. It’s lots of work…but the really hard part about painting is deciding just what to paint. In demonstrating her decision-making process, Munro uses 37 iconic and inspiring examples of fine art, each illustrating a genre for consideration, all drawn from the open-access collection of the National Gallery of Art and all representing an energizing variety of European and American artists, eras, media, and styles. She cleverly brings all these images together in a detailed, ambitious, culminating ink-and-acrylic cityscape. This signature image of an art-bedecked, lively metropolis also works as an art scavenger hunt. As readers discover the art embedded in a landscape, they can refer to the smart, concise, marvelously amplifying backmatter.

A handsome and satisfying companion to Market Maze (2015). (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3699-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

PROFESSOR ASTRO CAT'S SPACE ROCKETS

From the Professor Astro Cat series

Energetic enough to carry younger rocketeers off the launch pad if not into a very high orbit.

The bubble-helmeted feline explains what rockets do and the role they have played in sending people (and animals) into space.

Addressing a somewhat younger audience than in previous outings (Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space, 2013, etc.), Astro Cat dispenses with all but a light shower of “factoroids” to describe how rockets work. A highly selective “History of Space Travel” follows—beginning with a crew of fruit flies sent aloft in 1947, later the dog Laika (her dismal fate left unmentioned), and the human Yuri Gagarin. Then it’s on to Apollo 11 in 1969; the space shuttles Discovery, Columbia, and Challenger (the fates of the latter two likewise elided); the promise of NASA’s next-gen Orion and the Space Launch System; and finally vague closing references to other rockets in the works for local tourism and, eventually, interstellar travel. In the illustrations the spacesuited professor, joined by a mouse and cat in similar dress, do little except float in space and point at things. Still, the art has a stylish retro look, and portraits of Sally Ride and Guion Bluford diversify an otherwise all-white, all-male astronaut corps posing heroically or riding blocky, geometric spacecraft across starry reaches.

Energetic enough to carry younger rocketeers off the launch pad if not into a very high orbit. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-911171-55-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

BIG BOOK OF THE BODY

A broad, if hardly more than skin-deep, introduction to the topic.

Four double-foldout spreads literally extend this first gander at our body’s insides and outsides—to jumbo, if not quite life, size.

Labels, basic facts, and one-sentence comments surround full-length cartoon images of the skeleton, musculature, and major sections of the body on the foldouts. Selected parts from the brain on down to blood cells are covered on the leaves in between. Lacey dishes out explanations of major body systems and processes in resolutely nontechnical language: “When you eat, food goes on a long twisty journey, zigzagging through tubes and turning into a soupy mush for your body to use.” It’s lightly spiced with observations that, for instance, the “gluteus maximus” is the largest muscle or the spine is made up of “vertebrae.” So light is the once-over, however, that the lymphatic, renal, and most of the endocrine systems escape notice (kidneys, where are you?). Moreover, though printed on durable card stock, the foldouts make for unwieldy handling, and on some pages, images are so scattered that successive stages of various processes require numbering. Still, Web links on the publisher’s page will presumably help to cover the gaps (unavailable for review). An overview of human development from fertilization to adulthood precedes a closing flurry of height extremes and other “Amazing body facts” that provide proper closure for this elementary survey.

A broad, if hardly more than skin-deep, introduction to the topic. (Nonfiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7945-3596-4

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Usborne

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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