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Persuasive, if distinctly rushed and slanted more toward economic than cultural history.

Condensed from an adult series, a big-picture overview of how geography has influenced the development of modern nations and international trade.

Marshall’s fat Prisoners of Geography (2015) and select chapters (on Australia and Canada) from his upcoming Power of Geography (Nov. 2021) have been transformed into a dozen large infographic maps with follow-up commentary. It’s all designed to highlight the roles geophysical features, or the lack thereof, have played in shaping trade and politics. Readers will find both broad-brush accounts of historical incidents and themes and closer looks at cases in point. The point, for instance, that ignoring natural borders to lay out arbitrarily drawn ones (like those created in the Middle East after World War I) inevitably leads to long-term states of conflict is convincingly made. The maps themselves, many designed to demonstrate a specific point, are a patchy mix of single countries, whole continents, and general regions like Latin America (depicted as Mexico to Cape Horn). Some visuals, such as an outline of Africa with silhouettes of the U.S., China, and several other large countries fitted within like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, will make a larger impression on young viewers than, for instance, a schematic map of Europe festooned with pie charts showing the percentage of natural gas select countries import from Russia. Human figures are rare, generic, and used largely as decorative elements. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Persuasive, if distinctly rushed and slanted more toward economic than cultural history. (Informational picture book. 8-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-61519-847-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: The Experiment

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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1001 BEES

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge, certain to inspire deep thoughts.

From a Caldecott and Sibert honoree, an invitation to take a mind-expanding journey from the surface of our planet to the furthest reaches of the observable cosmos.

Though Chin’s assumption that we are even capable of understanding the scope of the universe is quixotic at best, he does effectively lead viewers on a journey that captures a sense of its scale. Following the model of Kees Boeke’s classic Cosmic View: The Universe in Forty Jumps (1957), he starts with four 8-year-old sky watchers of average height (and different racial presentations). They peer into a telescope and then are comically startled by the sudden arrival of an ostrich that is twice as tall…and then a giraffe that is over twice as tall as that…and going onward and upward, with ellipses at each page turn connecting the stages, past our atmosphere and solar system to the cosmic web of galactic superclusters. As he goes, precisely drawn earthly figures and features in the expansive illustrations give way to ever smaller celestial bodies and finally to glimmering swirls of distant lights against gulfs of deep black before ultimately returning to his starting place. A closing recap adds smaller images and additional details. Accompanying the spare narrative, valuable side notes supply specific lengths or distances and define their units of measure, accurately explain astronomical phenomena, and close with the provocative observation that “the observable universe is centered on us, but we are not in the center of the entire universe.”

A stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge, certain to inspire deep thoughts. (afterword, websites, further reading) (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4623-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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