MYTHS AND LEGENDS

A compact survey of world myths and legends.

Explaining that “myths are stories people used to tell to explain things they didn’t understand about their history, nature, or the world around them” and that “legends may once have been based on truth” but “have become fabulous fantasies,” Lawrence presents a smattering of notable characters and tales. The Greeks get a fair amount of attention, with the stories of Heracles, Theseus, Jason, and Pandora each afforded a double-page spread. As the book is quite small (5 ¾ inches high by 7 ½ inches across), that’s just a few sentences each. Other characters are grouped thematically (Robin Hood, Sun Wukong, Finn McCool, and Kintaro are “heroes”; Baba Yaga, Baron Samedi, Medusa, and Set are “the bad guys”). Although it’s clear Lawrence has worked not to limit herself to European mythology, her efforts at inclusivity are ham-handed at best. Next to a picture that looks suspiciously like Disney’s Pocahontas is a brief blurb on the generic “Native American spirit Sky Woman” (printed in black ink on dark-purple paper, so many readers may skip this anyway). Stories from extant cosmologies are presented alongside dead ones with no explanation, so readers who don’t know better may come away thinking Hinduism is as passé as the Norse pantheon, for instance. Equally troubling, stories and figures from the Abrahamic traditions are entirely absent, setting up a false opposition among belief systems.

Skip. (Nonfiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-944530-11-2

Page Count: 72

Publisher: 360 Degrees

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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

PROFESSOR ASTRO CAT'S SPACE ROCKETS

From the Professor Astro Cat series

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 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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This ambitious introduction to an important concept tries too hard to pigeonhole people, places, and things

NOUNS SAY "WHAT'S THAT?"

From the Word Adventures: Parts of Speech series

Anthropomorphized representations of a person, a place, and a thing introduce readers to nouns.

The protagonists are Person, a green, hairy, Cousin Itt–looking blob; Place, a round, blue, globe-ish being (stereotypically implied female by eyelashes and round pigtails); and Thing, a pink cloud with limbs, a porkpie hat, and red glasses. They first introduce the word “noun” and then start pointing out the nouns that fall under each of their categories. In their speech balloons, these vocabulary words are set in type that corresponds to the speaker’s color: “Each wheel is a thing noun,” says Thing, and “wheel” is set in red. Readers join the three as they visit a museum, pointing out the nouns they see along the way and introducing proper and collective nouns and ways to make nouns plural. Confusingly, though, Person labels the “bus driver” a “person noun” on one page, but two spreads later, Thing says “Abdar is a guard. Mrs. Mooney is a ticket taker. Their jobs are things that are also nouns.” Similarly, a group of athletes is a person noun—“team”—but “flock” and “pack” are things. Lowen’s digital illustrations portray a huge variety of people who display many skin and hair colors, differing abilities, and even religious and/or cultural markers (though no one is overweight). Backmatter includes a summary of noun facts, a glossary, an index (not seen), critical-thinking questions, and a list of further reading. Books on seven other parts of speech release simultaneously.

This ambitious introduction to an important concept tries too hard to pigeonhole people, places, and things . (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5158-4058-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Picture Window Books

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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