STARRY SKIES

LEARN ABOUT THE CONSTELLATIONS ABOVE US

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 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

AN ABC OF EQUALITY

Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children.

Social-equity themes are presented to children in ABC format.

Terms related to intersectional inequality, such as “class,” “gender,” “privilege,” “oppression,” “race,” and “sex,” as well as other topics important to social justice such as “feminism,” “human being,” “immigration,” “justice,” “kindness,” “multicultural,” “transgender,” “understanding,” and “value” are named and explained. There are 26 in all, one for each letter of the alphabet. Colorful two-page spreads with kid-friendly illustrations present each term. First the term is described: “Belief is when you are confident something exists even if you can’t see it. Lots of different beliefs fill the world, and no single belief is right for everyone.” On the facing page it concludes: “B is for BELIEF / Everyone has different beliefs.” It is hard to see who the intended audience for this little board book is. Babies and toddlers are busy learning the names for their body parts, familiar objects around them, and perhaps some basic feelings like happy, hungry, and sad; slightly older preschoolers will probably be bewildered by explanations such as: “A value is an expression of how to live a belief. A value can serve as a guide for how you behave around other human beings. / V is for VALUE / Live your beliefs out loud.”

Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children. (Board book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-742-8

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

ROCKET

A JOURNEY THROUGH THE PAGES BOOK

Ephemeral, though the interactive feature will likely prompt one or two voyages before the rocket flies off into oblivion.

A toy rocket propelled along a winding slot invites young astronauts to sample the wonders of outer space.

As in Vago and Rockefeller’s Train (2016), it’s all about the gimmick: a continuous slot cut into the heavy board pages that allows the small plastic vehicle (a retro-style rocket ship, here) to be pushed or pulled across each scene up to the edge and then around the edge to the next opening. Illustrating the generic rhyme (“Stars spin around in a cosmic race / Exploring the mysteries of outer space”), Rockefeller fills the starry firmament with flashes of light as the rocket soars past a crowd of glowing planets, winds its way through a thick field of “rocks,” pursues a comet, navigates a twinkling nebula, then swoops around a supernova to a die-cut hole that leads back to the first spread. The rocket is reasonably secure in its slot, but it can be reinserted easily enough should it fall (or, more likely, be pulled) out. The publisher suggests an age range of 4 through 8, likely in acknowledgment of the potential choking hazard the rocket ship poses, but the brevity and blandness of the text are unlikely to appeal to most in that range. Aside from a group of tiny figures watching the initial liftoff there are no people in the pictures.

Ephemeral, though the interactive feature will likely prompt one or two voyages before the rocket flies off into oblivion. (Novelty board book. 4-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5235-0113-7

Page Count: 15

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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