Moving on from Bedtime (1999), Swain and Smith turn to hair as a cultural statement. From people who shaved their heads and those who chose to be hairy, to people who grew beards or wore elaborate hairstyles, preferences often changed throughout history. The Ancient Egyptians were not a hairy bunch, whereas the Greeks were, often wearing long beards into battle. That is, until they realized that a beard could be grabbed by the enemy and used against them. Razors soon caught on. The thinning hair of King Louis XIV led to a run on the wigmaker’s shops, while 18th-century European women had towering mountains of hair that were coated with lard and flour and lasted for weeks or months. Native American and African hairdos reflected the styles of their tribes; while the Chinese queue was originally ordered by the invading Manchus, but caught on to become a popular style. Hair adornments are also addressed, including the Egyptian method of keeping cool by placing a cone of perfumed (and melting) beeswax on the top of the head. Swain’s mixture of humor and history makes this an effective look, not just at hairstyles, but also at social change. While more heavily Western, she has done a nice job of representing many non-Western cultures. Whatever the style, the message is clear: hair grows quickly, easily changes styles, and can demonstrate to people anything from religious or political views and occupation, to social or marital status. Smith’s watercolor-and-ink illustrations fit hairstyle and era together seamlessly. Each page features not only the hair of the time, but also the clothing, furniture, and some aspects of everyday lives. A cut above. (hair facts, bibliography) (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2002

ISBN: 0-8234-1522-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002

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Formulaic but not stale…even if it does mine previous topical material rather than expand it.


From the How Do Dinosaurs…? series

A guide to better behavior—at home, on the playground, in class, and in the library.

Serving as a sort of overview for the series’ 12 previous exercises in behavior modeling, this latest outing opens with a set of badly behaving dinos, identified in an endpaper key and also inconspicuously in situ. Per series formula, these are paired to leading questions like “Does she spit out her broccoli onto the floor? / Does he shout ‘I hate meat loaf!’ while slamming the door?” (Choruses of “NO!” from young audiences are welcome.) Midway through, the tone changes (“No, dinosaurs don’t”), and good examples follow to the tune of positive declarative sentences: “They wipe up the tables and vacuum the floors. / They share all the books and they never slam doors,” etc. Teague’s customary, humongous prehistoric crew, all depicted in exact detail and with wildly flashy coloration, fill both their spreads and their human-scale scenes as their human parents—no same-sex couples but some are racially mixed, and in one the man’s the cook—join a similarly diverse set of sibs and other children in either disapprobation or approving smiles. All in all, it’s a well-tested mix of oblique and prescriptive approaches to proper behavior as well as a lighthearted way to play up the use of “please,” “thank you,” and even “I’ll help when you’re hurt.”

Formulaic but not stale…even if it does mine previous topical material rather than expand it. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-36334-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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Science at its best: informative and gross.


Why not? Because “IT’S FULL OF GERMS.”

Of course, Ben-Barak rightly notes, so is everything else—from your socks to the top of Mount Everest. Just to demonstrate, he invites readers to undertake an exploratory adventure (only partly imaginary): First touch a certain seemingly blank spot on the page to pick up a microbe named Min, then in turn touch teeth, shirt, and navel to pick up Rae, Dennis, and Jake. In the process, readers watch crews of other microbes digging cavities (“Hey kid, brush your teeth less”), spreading “lovely filth,” and chowing down on huge rafts of dead skin. For the illustrations, Frost places dialogue balloons and small googly-eyed cartoon blobs of diverse shape and color onto Rundgren’s photographs, taken using a scanning electron microscope, of the fantastically rugged surfaces of seemingly smooth paper, a tooth, textile fibers, and the jumbled crevasses in a belly button. The tour concludes with more formal introductions and profiles for Min and the others: E. coli, Streptococcus, Aspergillus niger, and Corynebacteria. “Where will you take Min tomorrow?” the author asks teasingly. Maybe the nearest bar of soap.

Science at its best: informative and gross. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17536-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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