Routine, bottom-shelf fare.

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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A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness.

THE BRAIN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

An introduction to the lead guitar and vocalist for the Brainiacs—the human brain.

The brain (familiar to readers of Seluk’s “The Awkward Yeti” webcomic, which spun off the adult title Heart and Brain, 2015) looks like a dodgeball with arms and legs—pinkish, sturdy, and roundish, with a pair of square-framed spectacles bestowing an air of importance and hipness. Other organs of the body—tongue, lungs, stomach, muscle, and heart—are featured as members of the brain’s rock band (the verso of the dust jacket is a poster of the band). Seluk’s breezy, conversational prose and brightly colored, boldly outlined cartoon illustrations deliver basic information. The brain’s role in keeping the heart beating and other automatic functions, directing body movements, interpreting sights and sounds, remembering smells and tastes, and regulating sleep and hunger are all explained, prose augmented by dialogue balloons and information sidebars. Seluk points out, importantly, that feelings originate in the brain: “You can control how you react…but your feelings happen no matter what.” The parodied album covers on the front endpapers (including the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Green Day, Run DMC, Queen, Nirvana) will amuse parents—or at least grandparents—and the rear endpapers serve up band members’ clever social media and texting screenshots. Backmatter includes a glossary and further brain trivia but no resources or bibliography.

A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-16700-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Just the ticket for an armchair outing to the red planet.

MARS! EARTHLINGS WELCOME

From the Our Universe series , Vol. 5

Good news! Planet Marvelous is looking forward to visitors from Planet Awesome.

With the same exuberance that propelled readers deep into her Ocean! Waves for All (2020), illustrated by David Litchfield, and its three predecessors in the Our Universe series, McAnulty looks to the next planet out for a fresh set of enticing natural wonders. Billing itself a “party planet” (“I want to be the FIRST planet with human guests”), the russet raconteur trumpets its unique attractions. These range from moons Deimos and Phobos (“I know Earth is totally jealous”) to Olympus Mons and Valles Marineris, which is “four times as deep as the Grand Canyon! And not nearly as crowded.” Sure, unlike Spirit, Opportunity, and other rovers, human visitors will have to pack their own water and oxygen in addition to traveling millions of miles…but given a few technological advances, soon enough it’ll be time to “get this party started!” Prospective tourists diverse of age and race are dancing already on Earth in a final scene in anticipation of a trip to our “reMARkable” neighbor. Quiz questions and a timeline cap an enticement that echoes Susanna Leonard Hill’s Mars’ First Friends: Come on Over, Rovers! (2020), illustrated by Elisa Paganelli, in its fizzy mix of fact and fancy. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 75% of actual size.)

Just the ticket for an armchair outing to the red planet. (sources) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-25688-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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