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Its lack of solid information will frustrate avid nonfiction readers, and its abstruse language will alienate reluctant ones.

Full-page illustrations and informational text explore various inventions inspired by nature.

Bright, minimalist art presents eye-catching patterns for readers while labored, unfocused paragraphs flit from one pop-science story to another. In one spread, colorful geckos crawl next to rolls of tape as the accompanying text notes that scientists studied gecko toe pads to create adhesives. The text doesn’t take time to explain why or how these toe pads work, and though a single close-up image of them could communicate that concept, the illustration doesn’t either. Even as both text and pictures eschew detail, the reading level is strangely high; words such as autonomous or precursor and phrases like hits the market feel better suited to a corporate presentation than a picture book for children. It’s unclear whether much fact-checking was done; the book reports that whale hearts inspired Jorge Reynolds Pombo to invent the pacemaker in 1958, but other accounts indicate that John Hopps designed and built the first pacemaker in 1950, with no mention of whales. The “LED light bulbs” appearing next to glowing fireflies look suspiciously like incandescent bulbs with wire filaments. While there is adequate racial diversity in illustrations of humans, it’s frustrating that the text names Isaac Newton and Leonardo da Vinci but refers generally to “Japanese scientists.”

Its lack of solid information will frustrate avid nonfiction readers, and its abstruse language will alienate reluctant ones. (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64421-018-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Triangle Square Books for Young Readers

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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1001 BEES

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge, certain to inspire deep thoughts.

From a Caldecott and Sibert honoree, an invitation to take a mind-expanding journey from the surface of our planet to the furthest reaches of the observable cosmos.

Though Chin’s assumption that we are even capable of understanding the scope of the universe is quixotic at best, he does effectively lead viewers on a journey that captures a sense of its scale. Following the model of Kees Boeke’s classic Cosmic View: The Universe in Forty Jumps (1957), he starts with four 8-year-old sky watchers of average height (and different racial presentations). They peer into a telescope and then are comically startled by the sudden arrival of an ostrich that is twice as tall…and then a giraffe that is over twice as tall as that…and going onward and upward, with ellipses at each page turn connecting the stages, past our atmosphere and solar system to the cosmic web of galactic superclusters. As he goes, precisely drawn earthly figures and features in the expansive illustrations give way to ever smaller celestial bodies and finally to glimmering swirls of distant lights against gulfs of deep black before ultimately returning to his starting place. A closing recap adds smaller images and additional details. Accompanying the spare narrative, valuable side notes supply specific lengths or distances and define their units of measure, accurately explain astronomical phenomena, and close with the provocative observation that “the observable universe is centered on us, but we are not in the center of the entire universe.”

A stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge, certain to inspire deep thoughts. (afterword, websites, further reading) (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4623-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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