An amiable point-counterpoint for budding animal lovers/haters.

READ REVIEW

THE NOT BAD ANIMALS

Forty-two creatures of ill repute, from scorpions to hyenas, put on their best faces and protest that they’re just misunderstood.

In paired double-page spreads, Corrigan first presents for each animal the case for considering it scary or gross, then, with the page turn, allows it to contradict itself. “I’m creepy and I’m crawly,” a spider supposedly gloats. “I spin webs from my butt and leave them in places where I KNOW you’ll get stuck in them.” In the following spread, the spider points out that “Only half of my kind spin webs, and we really, REALLY don’t want you to get stuck in them!” Along with pointing to roles in the natural order and including many crowd-pleasing references to butts and poop, these counterarguments tend to run along the lines of the rat’s “I’m a fluffy little SWEETIE!” and the toad’s “I am a plump lump of CUTENESS!” Each testimonial is backed up by a box of background information baldly labeled “FACTS.” Readers may find the chorus of smiley faces and claims of adorability unconvincing, but they will at least come away with more nuanced impressions of each creepy-crawly. The humorous cartoon illustrations don’t measure up to the in-your-face photos of Seymour Simon’s classic Animals Nobody Loves (2001), but this gallery of beasties unfairly regarded as “icky and ewwy and downright gross” is considerably broader.

An amiable point-counterpoint for budding animal lovers/haters. (glossary) (Nonfiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4748-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Science at its best: informative and gross.

DO NOT LICK THIS BOOK

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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Well-crafted, accessible, and essential.

WE HAD TO BE BRAVE

ESCAPING THE NAZIS ON THE KINDERTRANSPORT

A vital collection of vignettes from the Kindertransport, the World War II rescue effort that brought about 10,000 child refugees from Nazi-controlled countries into Britain.

Years before the Nazis ramped up to genocide, the anti-Semitic laws of the Third Reich convinced some parents that their children were unsafe. Emigration, however, was quite difficult. Even for those prepared to move somewhere they didn’t speak the language, it was shockingly difficult to get a visa. England and the United States had strict immigration quotas. Nevertheless, refugee advocates and the British Home Office hatched a plan to bring child refugees into Britain and settle them with foster families. (A similar attempt in the U.S. died in Congress.) The voices of myriad Kindertransport survivors are used to tell of this harrowing time, recalling in oral histories and published and unpublished memoirs their prewar lives, the journey, their foster families. Sidebars provide more resources about the people in each section; it’s startlingly powerful to read a survivor’s story and then go to a YouTube video or BBC recording featuring that same survivor, speaking as an adult or recorded as a child more than 80 years ago. Historical context, personal stories, and letters are seamlessly integrated in this history of frightened refugee children in a new land and their brave parents’ making “the heart-wrenching decision” to send their children away with strangers to a foreign country.

Well-crafted, accessible, and essential. (timeline, glossary, resources, index, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-25572-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Scholastic Focus

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad.

THE BIG BEYOND

THE STORY OF SPACE TRAVEL

A capsule history of space exploration, from early stargazing to probes roaming the surface of Mars.

In loosely rhymed couplets Carter’s high-speed account zooms past the inventions of constellations, telescopes, and flying machines to the launches of Sputnik I, the “Saturn Five” (spelled out, probably, to facilitate the rhyme) that put men on the moon, and later probes. He caps it all with an enticing suggestion: “We’ll need an astronaut (or two)— / so what do you think? Could it be YOU?” Cushley lines up a notably diverse array of prospective young space travelers for this finish, but anachronistic earlier views of a dark-skinned astronaut floating in orbit opposite poetic references to the dogs, cats, and other animals sent into space in the 1950s and a model of the space shuttle on a shelf next to a line of viewers watching the televised moon landing in 1969 show no great regard for verisimilitude. Also, his full-page opening picture of the Challenger, its ports painted to look like a smiley face, just moments before it blew up is a decidedly odd choice to illustrate the poem’s opening countdown. As with his cosmological lyric Once upon a Star (2018, illustrated by Mar Hernández), the poet closes with a page of further facts arranged as an acrostic.

Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68010-147-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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