Montgomery’s imagined story is informed by her extensive knowledge and rings true; sadly, the illustrations are less...

INKY'S AMAZING ESCAPE

HOW A VERY SMART OCTOPUS FOUND HIS WAY HOME

Inky the octopus escapes again.

The author of The Soul of an Octopus (2015, for adults) provides a picture-book example of octopus intelligence in this latest account of the escape of an octopus named Inky from the New Zealand National Aquarium. Her well-paced narrative begins with his hatching in the wild, from an egg “the size of a grain of rice.” The writer weaves in plenty of informational details about octopuses’ physical characteristics and habits while she spins the likely story of his injury (two tentacles partially bitten off by a moray eel), accidental capture, and subsequent life in a public aquarium. The smooth prose invites children’s appreciation for this remarkable species, which even enjoy playing with familiar toys. A reassuring endnote explains that the octopus was “probably very happy in his tank at the aquarium.” But, like readers and listeners, he was curious, “eager to discover what else is out there.” Colorful, digitally finished illustrations created using various paints, oil pastel, and collage give a reasonable impression of the octopus’s world, but Inky’s popping eyes lack the characteristic, usually rectangular slit, and he’s shown as female. A New Zealand street scene has cars driving on the wrong side of the road.

Montgomery’s imagined story is informed by her extensive knowledge and rings true; sadly, the illustrations are less convincing. Still, this is the most plausible of many recent iterations of this great escape. (endnote, fun facts, further resources) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0191-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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Just the ticket for an armchair outing to the red planet.

MARS! EARTHLINGS WELCOME

From the Our Universe series , Vol. 5

Good news! Planet Marvelous is looking forward to visitors from Planet Awesome.

With the same exuberance that propelled readers deep into her Ocean! Waves for All (2020), illustrated by David Litchfield, and its three predecessors in the Our Universe series, McAnulty looks to the next planet out for a fresh set of enticing natural wonders. Billing itself a “party planet” (“I want to be the FIRST planet with human guests”), the russet raconteur trumpets its unique attractions. These range from moons Deimos and Phobos (“I know Earth is totally jealous”) to Olympus Mons and Valles Marineris, which is “four times as deep as the Grand Canyon! And not nearly as crowded.” Sure, unlike Spirit, Opportunity, and other rovers, human visitors will have to pack their own water and oxygen in addition to traveling millions of miles…but given a few technological advances, soon enough it’ll be time to “get this party started!” Prospective tourists diverse of age and race are dancing already on Earth in a final scene in anticipation of a trip to our “reMARkable” neighbor. Quiz questions and a timeline cap an enticement that echoes Susanna Leonard Hill’s Mars’ First Friends: Come on Over, Rovers! (2020), illustrated by Elisa Paganelli, in its fizzy mix of fact and fancy. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 75% of actual size.)

Just the ticket for an armchair outing to the red planet. (sources) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-25688-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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An unpalatable mess left half-baked by an ill-conceived gimmick.

THERE WAS A BLACK HOLE THAT SWALLOWED THE UNIVERSE

Modeling a classic nursery song, a black hole does what a black hole does.

Ferrie reverses the song’s customary little-to-large order and shows frequent disregard for such niceties as actual rhymes and regular metrics. Also playing fast and loose with internal logic, she tracks a black hole as it cumulatively chows down, Pac-Man–style, on the entire universe, then galaxies (“It left quite a cavity after swallowing that galaxy”), stars, planets, cells, molecules, atoms, neutrons, and finally the ultimate: “There was a black hole that swallowed a quark. / That’s all there was. / And now it’s dark.” Then, in a twist that limits the audience for this feature to aging hippies and collectors of psychedelic posters, the author enjoins viewers to turn a black light (not supplied) onto the pages and flip back through for “an entirely different story.” What that might be, or even whether a filtered light source would work as well as a UV bulb, is left to anybody’s guess. The black hole and most of its victims sport roly-poly bodies and comically dismayed expressions in Batori’s cartoon illustrations—the universe in its entirety goes undepicted, unsurprisingly, and the quark never does appear, in the visible spectrum at least. This anthropomorphization adds a slapstick element that does nothing to pull the physics and the premise together.

An unpalatable mess left half-baked by an ill-conceived gimmick. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8077-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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