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From the Our Universe series , Vol. 7

An endearing but unfocused look at everyone’s favorite dwarf planet.

Meet Pluto, a “proud, playful, and popular non-planet.”

Today’s young readers likely grew up learning that there are only eight planets in our solar system, a fact that sets them apart from generations past. Pluto may well have been stricken from the planetary record, but in “his” own words, “Not a planet? Not a problem!” McAnulty’s chipper text seems torn between a multitude of directions. It could have been a story about identity and how it’s OK not to fit in. It could have been an exploration of the solar system, what’s in it, and how humans have studied it. It could have offered knowledge about dwarf planets and what makes them special. It somehow manages to do all and none of these things, likely limited by the young age of its intended audience. What stands out most are the facts, interspersed throughout the text and also found in the backmatter; the story itself, conversational, bubbly, and littered with misplaced dog metaphors (Pluto dubs himself both a “runt” and a “stray”), isn’t quite as engaging as it attempts to be. The highly anthropomorphized art is bright and cute, although the occasional floppy ears are somewhat disconcerting. Backmatter is highly informative, containing those juicy specialized details sure to please space-loving readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An endearing but unfocused look at everyone’s favorite dwarf planet. (author’s note, statistics on Pluto, information on what makes something a planet, sources, “Pluto or Earth or Both?”) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9781250813466

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard.

Rotner follows Hello Spring (2017) with this salute to the fall season.

Name a change seen in northern climes in fall, and Rotner likely covers it here, from plants, trees, and animals to the food we harvest: seeds are spread, the days grow shorter and cooler, the leaves change and fall (and are raked up and jumped in), some animals migrate, and many families celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving. As in the previous book, the photographs (presented in a variety of sizes and layouts, all clean) are the stars here, displaying both the myriad changes of the season and a multicultural array of children enjoying the outdoors in fall. These are set against white backgrounds that make the reddish-orange print pop. The text itself uses short sentences and some solid vocabulary (though “deep sleep” is used instead of “hibernate”) to teach readers the markers of autumn, though in the quest for simplicity, Rotner sacrifices some truth. In several cases, the addition of just a few words would have made the following oversimplified statements reflect reality: “Birds grow more feathers”; “Cranberries float and turn red.” Also, Rotner includes the statement “Bees store extra honey in their hives” on a page about animals going into deep sleep, implying that honeybees hibernate, which is false.

Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3869-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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From the I Can Read! series

An informative and accessible child’s-eye view of STEM careers.

Aspiring young scientists, take heed!

Traveling on a ship to the North Pole would seem an adventure in itself, but the young, unnamed narrator, whose mother heads up a team of marine biologists, also gets to meet eight other scientists involved in other specialties. On almost every page of this early reader, we encounter someone engaged in different fieldwork: a hydrologist, a microbiologist, a geologist, a seismologist, a climate scientist, a meteorologist, a zoologist, and an astronomer. As the narrator thinks about careers in science, more specialty roles—botanist, epidemiologist, and physicist—are added to the list. The work of these scientists is clearly and simply explained. (Appended is a short list with descriptions of 10 specialties.) The unfussy illustrations are washed in glowing colors, with many shades of blue; when snow forms the background, the scientists’ bright jackets pop. The ship itself is a fire-engine red. Beginners might need help reading or pronouncing some of the researchers’ special fields, but overall this is an engaging introduction to a wide and important area of work. The scientists include men and women and are racially diverse. The narrator and Mom are light-skinned; the child uses crutches.

An informative and accessible child’s-eye view of STEM careers. (Early reader/nonfiction. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2024

ISBN: 9780062989659

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2024

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