Routine, bottom-shelf fare.

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DINOSAURS

Imported from France, a gallery of dinosaurs and prehistoric reptiles, animated by pop-ups, spinners, and pull-tabs.

A pair of oversimplifications—that dinosaurs “no longer exist” but “entire skeletons” can be viewed in museums—starts the survey off with a resounding thud. Following this, in a disconnected ramble, topical spreads deal with the science of paleontology, the life cycle of Saltasaurus from egg to adult, defense mechanisms, big dinos, and, for an abrupt close, sea life. Some dinos feature feathers or crests in a low-contrast second color, but most are monochrome and all so simplified in form that, for instance, there’s almost no discernible difference between dull-hued Diplodocus and Brachiosaurus, immediately above it. The interactions are no great shakes either. Except for an initial spread-spanning folded flap, the pop-ups are printed on only one side, and the swings of the pull-tab tails of Ankylosaurus and Diplodocus aren’t even slightly realistic. Flora and fauna feel arbitrarily placed, and some feature unhelpfully generic labels such as “school of fish,” or “rodents” rather than actual identifiers. The co-published Firefighters, written by Anne-Sophie Baumann and illustrated by Benjamin Bécue, opens with an exploding building but otherwise offers a similarly flat assortment of general facts and low-rent special effects. In both volumes human figures, where they appear, are diverse in gender presentation, age, and skin color.

Routine, bottom-shelf fare. (Informational pop-up picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 979-1-02760-428-9

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad.

THE BIG BEYOND

THE STORY OF SPACE TRAVEL

A capsule history of space exploration, from early stargazing to probes roaming the surface of Mars.

In loosely rhymed couplets Carter’s high-speed account zooms past the inventions of constellations, telescopes, and flying machines to the launches of Sputnik I, the “Saturn Five” (spelled out, probably, to facilitate the rhyme) that put men on the moon, and later probes. He caps it all with an enticing suggestion: “We’ll need an astronaut (or two)— / so what do you think? Could it be YOU?” Cushley lines up a notably diverse array of prospective young space travelers for this finish, but anachronistic earlier views of a dark-skinned astronaut floating in orbit opposite poetic references to the dogs, cats, and other animals sent into space in the 1950s and a model of the space shuttle on a shelf next to a line of viewers watching the televised moon landing in 1969 show no great regard for verisimilitude. Also, his full-page opening picture of the Challenger, its ports painted to look like a smiley face, just moments before it blew up is a decidedly odd choice to illustrate the poem’s opening countdown. As with his cosmological lyric Once upon a Star (2018, illustrated by Mar Hernández), the poet closes with a page of further facts arranged as an acrostic.

Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68010-147-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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It’s not the most dramatic version, but it’s a visually effective and serviceable addition to the rapidly growing shelf of...

THE FIRST MEN WHO WENT TO THE MOON

A 50th-anniversary commemoration of the epochal Apollo 11 mission.

Modeling her account on “The House That Jack Built” (an unspoken, appropriate nod to President John F. Kennedy’s foundational role in the enterprise), Greene takes Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins from liftoff to post-splashdown ticker-tape parade. Side notes on some spreads and two pages of further facts with photographs at the end, all in smaller type, fill in select details about the mission and its historical context. The rhymed lines are fully cumulated only once, so there is some repetition but never enough to grow monotonous: “This is the Moon, a mysterious place, / a desolate land in the darkness of space, / far from Earth with oceans blue.” Also, the presentation of the text in just three or fewer lines per spread stretches out the narrative and gives Brundage latitude for both formal and informal group portraits of Apollo 11’s all-white crew, multiple glimpses of our planet and the moon at various heights, and, near the end, atmospheric (so to speak) views of the abandoned lander and boot prints in the lunar dust.

It’s not the most dramatic version, but it’s a visually effective and serviceable addition to the rapidly growing shelf of tributes to our space program’s high-water mark. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58536-412-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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