Readers familiar with this book will delight in a fresher-looking version, but overall and despite good intentions, it does...

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THE POPCORN BOOK

40TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Curious, shaggy-haired twins Tony and Tiny learn about the history of popcorn while waiting for a pot of kernels to pop.

First published in 1978, this 40th-anniversary edition updates the depictions of Indigenous people and expands upon the presentation of historical facts as Tony gets a pan hot and ready for popcorn while Tiny tells his brother (and readers) about the history of the food. This version is cleaner and brighter, with more saturated colors and modern type. The European (French, Spanish, and English) colonizers’ perspective of popcorn history is de-emphasized, and more agency is given to Indigenous peoples. This version does a good job of including more Native Nation–specific facts about popcorn and its preparation, with lines such as, “The Ho-Chunk, also known as the Winnebago, were particularly fond of oiled popcorn on the cob.” That being said, even though Tony and Tiny, two white boys, live in the present, all references to Indigenous peoples are in the past; this was a missed opportunity to include present-day Indigenous peoples’ relationships to corn/popcorn. Also, the original stereotypical illustration of a brown-skinned, angry “little demon” inside a kernel is woefully present in this version, although the text has been edited to say “little man”; rather than the original “The Indian people had a legend,” the text now reads “Some people tell the story,” which implies that the origins of this “legend” are hazy.

Readers familiar with this book will delight in a fresher-looking version, but overall and despite good intentions, it does not completely rehabilitate the original’s flawed depictions of Indigenous peoples. (sources, resources) (Informational picture book. 5-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-82343985-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders.

THE BIG BOOK OF THE BLUE

Denizens of the deep crowd oversized pages in this populous gallery of ocean life.

The finny and tentacled sea creatures drifting or arrowing through Zommer’s teeming watercolor seascapes are generally recognizable, and they are livened rather than distorted by the artist’s tendency to place human eyes on the same side of many faces, Picasso-like. Headers such as “Ink-teresting” or “In for the krill” likewise add a playful tone to the pithy comments on anatomical features or behavioral quirks that accompany the figures (which include, though rarely, a white human diver). The topical spreads begin with an overview of ocean families (“Some are hairy, some have scales, some have fins and some are boneless and brainless!”), go on to introduce select animals in no particular order from sea horses and dragonets to penguins and pufferfish, then close with cautionary remarks on chemical pollution and floating plastic. The author invites readers as they go to find both answers to such questions as “Why does a crab run sideways?” and also a small sardine hidden in some, but not all, of the pictures. For the latter he provides a visual key at the end, followed by a basic glossary.

A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders. (index) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-500-65119-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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