Stunning art and clever storytelling come together to deliver a poignant message.

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WATER

A reflection on access to water as a natural resource in India and the price some people must pay for it.

This picture book for middle-grade readers and above touches upon issues of human migration, gender and economic inequalities, and our relationship with nature, through both the author’s personal account and a fable from the Gond people of India. Framing the narrative as a visit home from the city, Vyam shares vignettes of how people live differently in villages and cities in India and explores their interdependence on natural resources. He traces developments in his home village and their impacts on the lives of its villagers, especially women. He also laments how it is unfair that sometimes villages must pay the price for the increasing demands of the rich people in the city. Threading through all of this is his recollection of the traditional story of seven sisters who bargain with the lake for needed water. Overall, this multilayered story provides many opportunities for discussion on the numerous social and environmental issues we all face. Young readers not of the culture may need explanations of the contexts of both the traditional and the primary stories. The beautiful ink-on-paper illustrations of Gond art magnify the appeal of the book, strikingly depicting aquatic and rural life in bright colors.

Stunning art and clever storytelling come together to deliver a poignant message. (Picture book. 10-adult)

Pub Date: April 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-93-83145-61-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Tara Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Necessary for every library, personal or otherwise.

THE WAY THINGS WORK NOW

As fresh and funny as ever, a classic compendium of physics in action gets a light but needed makeover.

Most of the “Things” here are still working the way they did back in 1988, 1998, and 2004, when the original and the revised editions dropped—but along with sporting new and spruced-up colors, some of the content, notably the section dubbed “The Digital Domain,” has been brought into the 21st century. Thus, the space shuttle and the VCR are no more, the workings of the telephone have been replaced by those of smartphones and telephone networks, and the jump jet has given way to the quadcopter and other types of drones. But the details that made the earlier editions delightful as well as edifying remain. In the illustrations, flights of tiny angels move the “first whoopee cushion” into place, discombobulated woolly mammoths get caught up in silly side business while helping to demonstrate scientific principles, and best of all, Macaulay’s brilliantly designed, engagingly informal diagrams and cutaways bring within the grasp of even casual viewers a greater understanding of the technological wonders of both past and present.

Necessary for every library, personal or otherwise. (index) (Reference. 11-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-82438-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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From its enticing, dramatic cover to its brown endpapers to a comical Grant Wood–esque final image, this is a worthy...

THE GREAT AMERICAN DUST BOWL

A graphic-novel account of the science and history that first created and then, theoretically, destroyed the terrifying Dust Bowl storms that raged in the United States during the “dirty thirties.”

“A speck of dust is a tiny thing. Five of them could fit on the period at the end of this sentence.” This white-lettered opening is set against a roiling mass of dark clouds that spills from verso to recto as a cartoon farmer and scores of wildlife flee for their lives. The dialogue balloon for the farmer—“Oh my God! Here it comes!”—is the first of many quotations (most of them more informative) from transcripts of eyewitnesses. These factual accounts are interspersed with eloquently simple explanations of the geology of the Great Plains, the mistake of replacing bison with cattle and other lead-ups to the devastations of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. The comic-book–style characters create relief from the relentlessly grim stories of hardship and loss, set in frames appropriately backgrounded in grays and browns. Although readers learn of how the U.S. government finally intervened to help out, the text does not spare them from accounts of crippling droughts even in the current decade.

From its enticing, dramatic cover to its brown endpapers to a comical Grant Wood–esque final image, this is a worthy contribution to the nonfiction shelves. (bibliography, source notes, photographs) (Graphic nonfiction. 10 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-81550-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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