A strain for eyes and sensibilities alike.



A companion to Adventures in Space (2018) commemorating feats of exploration and discovery while harking back to the grand old days of Eurocentric colonialism.

In serigraphic-style illustrations that, like Lynn Curlee’s, privilege strong forms and monumentality over specific detail, Tyler depicts stylized locales beginning with “Polar Regions” and running from “Mountains” and “Volcanoes” through “Oceans,” “Deserts,” “Jungles,” and “Caves and Chasms.” These serve as backdrops for brief accounts of select “pioneering adventurers,” nearly all white Europeans, which feature lines such as “Samuel and Florence [Baker] followed the White Nile beyond Lake Albert and, in doing so, discovered an impressive waterfall,” and “[Alfred Russell Wallace] traveled through previously unexplored forests,” while offering patronizing nods to early Polynesian explorers and Indigenous Canadians. The author does highlight some modern adventurers including marine biologist Sylvia Earle and ill-fated volcanologist/filmmaker Katia Krafft but fails even to mention (for instance) early Muslim travelers or the 15th-century expeditions of Zheng He. The author also veers off topic in one chapter to plead for the conservation of forest ecosystems. Moreover, the final chapter’s black-on-black color scheme renders human and other forms nearly invisible, and elsewhere the narrative is printed in a small typeface on, all too often, dark blue or green backgrounds that render it barely legible. Armchair explorers can easily do better.

A strain for eyes and sensibilities alike. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-84365-427-8

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Pavilion/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A promising approach—but too underpowered to reach orbital velocity.



Young earthlings turn starry skies into playscapes in this first look at constellations.

On a page first glimpsed through a big die-cut hole in the front cover, Chagollan promises that stars “tell a thousand stories.” She goes on to describe brief scenarios in which residents of Earth interact with 15 Northern Hemisphere constellations. These range from Benjamin’s battle with a fierce dragon beneath Draco to a trio of unnamed ducklings who use the Swan to “find their way home.” Six further starry clusters bearing only labels are crowded into the final spread. In illustrations composed of thin white lines on matte black backgrounds (the characters formed by the stars are glossy), Aye colors significant stars yellow, connects them with dots, and encloses them in outlines of mythological figures that are as simply drawn as the animals and humans (and mermaid) below. As a practical introduction, this has little to offer budding sky watchers beyond a limited set of constellations—two, the Big Dipper and the Summer Triangle, are not official constellations at all but classified as asterisms—that are inconsistently labeled in Latin or English or both. Despite a closing invitation to go out and “find these stars in the sky,” the book provides no sky maps or verbal guidelines that would make that actually possible.

A promising approach—but too underpowered to reach orbital velocity. (Informational picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63322-509-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walter Foster Jr.

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Ephemeral, though the interactive feature will likely prompt one or two voyages before the rocket flies off into oblivion.



A toy rocket propelled along a winding slot invites young astronauts to sample the wonders of outer space.

As in Vago and Rockefeller’s Train (2016), it’s all about the gimmick: a continuous slot cut into the heavy board pages that allows the small plastic vehicle (a retro-style rocket ship, here) to be pushed or pulled across each scene up to the edge and then around the edge to the next opening. Illustrating the generic rhyme (“Stars spin around in a cosmic race / Exploring the mysteries of outer space”), Rockefeller fills the starry firmament with flashes of light as the rocket soars past a crowd of glowing planets, winds its way through a thick field of “rocks,” pursues a comet, navigates a twinkling nebula, then swoops around a supernova to a die-cut hole that leads back to the first spread. The rocket is reasonably secure in its slot, but it can be reinserted easily enough should it fall (or, more likely, be pulled) out. The publisher suggests an age range of 4 through 8, likely in acknowledgment of the potential choking hazard the rocket ship poses, but the brevity and blandness of the text are unlikely to appeal to most in that range. Aside from a group of tiny figures watching the initial liftoff there are no people in the pictures.

Ephemeral, though the interactive feature will likely prompt one or two voyages before the rocket flies off into oblivion. (Novelty board book. 4-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5235-0113-7

Page Count: 15

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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