Color explorations should be robust and clear; this one’s dull and oddly alienating.

READ REVIEW

THE COLOR BOOK

Verbosity and loose metaphor overwhelm a few pretty spreads and intriguing projects in this unfocused tribute to colors.

Pietromarchi “would rather not have written any words at all” about color, she claims, but then she proceeds to talk up a blue streak. Positing that “[c]olor speaks for itself” and can’t be explained verbally, she then employs copious words to take readers on a “color dance.” The color dance, despite being her core figure of speech, never makes sense. Textual muddles include vagueness (“color lets you travel, across…realms”), mismatches between text and pictures (a full spread waxing poetic about yellow but showing orange), and missed opportunities (“even…a small yellow door” is interesting, says a spread that shows no door at all). Instead of explaining how blue paint changes other colors, she explains how a (metaphorical) “blue feather” changes them. Readers willing to wade through the long-windedness (or peruse in nonlinear fashion) will enjoy fables about a hue’s mood and vibe, fancifully colored animals, sophisticated color-mixing exercises and a few lovely color scales. A sequence of “shrines of color” presents household and nature items divided by hue. The illustrations have a delicate style throughout—too delicate: Fighting to be noticed, bizarrely, are the colors themselves. Their visual reproduction is more often dry than juicy, and they drown in the rambling word clutter.

Color explorations should be robust and clear; this one’s dull and oddly alienating. (Informational picture book. 7-11)

Pub Date: April 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-93-83145-01-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Tara Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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This may spark a few imaginations, but its lack of directions and the difficulty level of most of the projects—not to...

WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH ONLY ONE SHOE?

REUSE, RECYCLE, REINVENT

Readers learn how to “Reuse, Recycle, Reinvent” what some might call trash into treasures.  

Rhyming poems each introduce a single way to reuse/reinvent something: A toilet becomes a planter, the titular shoe morphs into a birdhouse, a (very large, nonstandard) light bulb houses a fish, and favorite jeans that are holey? They become a new purse. The most creative has to be a table supported by a pitchfork: “If you’re wanting to picnic on uneven ground, / where your table’s unstable or up on a mound, / stop and think! Be creative! The answer’s around.” While cans, wood and wire are both easily found and transformed into musical instruments, not all these projects use such common materials or are as simple to complete: Half of a boat turns into a covered bench, a car becomes a bed, and a grocery cart transforms into a chair. And although it’s neat to see a farmer’s new watering trough (an enormous tire) and a community’s new playground (an old ambulance anchors it), these are not projects that are likely to fire readers up to do similar things. Cartoon spot illustrations share space with photographs of the new inventions, and both are needed to make sense of the poems.

This may spark a few imaginations, but its lack of directions and the difficulty level of most of the projects—not to mention its failure to impart reasons for reducing, reusing and recycling—make this one to skip. (Poetry. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55451-642-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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If this book were a pizza, young readers would gobble down every slice—and demand more for dessert.

IF

A MIND-BENDING NEW WAY OF LOOKING AT BIG IDEAS AND NUMBERS

Continuing his exploration of the mind-expanding possibilities of scale modeling, Smith extends the premise of If America Were a Village (2009) to encompass life, time and the universe.

Following a well-taken note that his comparisons are mostly approximations, the author proposes thinking of Earth’s life span as a month, all wealth as 100 coins and 14 similar transformations designed to make incomprehensibly huge numbers or measurements at least theoretically graspable. The trick doesn’t always work (“If the Milky Way galaxy were shrunk to the size of a dinner plate...,” the visible universe “would be about the size of Belgium”), but it does offer readers a chance to think of time, for instance, in terms of days or minutes instead of millions of years. Better yet, Adams’ painted infographics offer literal visualizations of the planets as balls of different sizes, of where inventions from fire to smartphones would lie relative to one another along a ruler or tape measure, and how many “slices” of our life are consumed in sleeping—if our life were a pizza. In a closing note addressed to adults, the author suggests further scaling and numeracy-building exercises.

If this book were a pizza, young readers would gobble down every slice—and demand more for dessert. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-894786-34-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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