A casual introduction to the topic, with resources for further study.




Readers learn the relationship between the colors of flowers and pollination.

With a googly-eyed cactus as her narrator, Levine explains why flowers need help with pollination from animals and why it’s key to the survival of plants. Since most plants need pollen from other plants of their own species to fertilize their seeds, their colors “advertise” their plants’ attraction to pollinating creatures. The text characterizes these adaptations as deception: “We trick them into carrying [pollen] for us. We’re nice about it, though—we pay them a little something for their efforts.” Intriguing facts surface: Red flowers appeal mainly to birds, since insects can’t see red. White flowers, often scented, are luminous to nocturnal moths and bats. The stinky smells of brown flowers lure flies. Green flowers, being wind-pollinated, don’t need to “talk” to animals. Using personification to convey science concepts to children is endemic—and the snarky narration will find fans. Two spreads on flowers that attract bees depict only bumblebees and honeybees, missing an opportunity to give readers a sense of the many families of bees. A labeled flower diagram does not identify the anther—only the pollen that sits atop it. D’yans’ digital-and-watercolor illustrations, while often lovely, emphasize vibrant color and aggregated species arrays, not scientific verisimilitude. The pictured plant and animal species go largely unidentified, leaving readers puzzling.

A casual introduction to the topic, with resources for further study. (pollination facts and diagrams, protecting pollinators, bibliography) (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-1928-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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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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A solid introduction to fascinating artists, some familiar, others less so.


Contemporary and historical female artists are showcased for younger readers.

The artists’ names aren’t presented in A-to-Z order. The alphabetical arrangement actually identifies signature motifs (“D is for Dots” for Yayoi Kusama); preferred media (“I is for Ink” for Elizabeth Catlett); or cultural, natural, or personal motives underlying artworks (“N is for Nature” for Maya Lin). Various media are covered, such as painting, box assemblage, collage, photography, pottery, and sculpture. One artist named isn’t an individual but rather the Gee’s Bend Collective, “generations of African American women in Gee’s Bend, Alabama,” renowned for quilting artistry. Each artist and her or their work is introduced on a double-page spread that features succinct descriptions conveying much admiring, easily comprehensible information. Colorful illustrations include graphically simplified representations of the women at work or alongside examples of their art; the spreads provide ample space for readers to understand what the artists produced. Several women were alive when this volume was written; some died in the recent past or last century; two worked several hundred years ago, when female artists were rare. Commendably, the profiled artists are very diverse: African American, Latina, Native American, Asian, white, and multiethnic women are represented; this diversity is reflected in their work, as explained via texts and illustrations.

A solid introduction to fascinating artists, some familiar, others less so. (minibiographies, discussion questions, art suggestions) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-10872-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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