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

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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An inspiring call to action for all who care about our interconnected planet.

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WE ARE WATER PROTECTORS

In this tribute to Native resilience, Indigenous author-and-illustrator team Lindstrom and Goade invite readers to stand up for environmental justice.

“Water is the first medicine,” a young, unnamed protagonist reflects as she wades into a river with her grandmother. “We come from water.” Stunning illustrations, rich in symbolism from the creators’ respective Ojibwe and Tlingit/Haida lineages, bring the dark-haired, brown-skinned child’s narrative to life as she recounts an Anishinaabe prophecy: One day, a “black snake” will terrorize her community and threaten water, animals, and land. “Now the black snake is here,” the narrator proclaims, connecting the legend to the present-day threat of oil pipelines being built on Native lands. Though its image is fearsome, younger audiences aren’t likely to be frightened due to Goade’s vibrant, uplifting focus on collective power. Awash in brilliant colors and atmospheric studies of light, the girl emphasizes the importance of protecting “those who cannot fight for themselves” and understanding that on Earth, “we are all related.” Themes of ancestry, community responsibility, and shared inheritance run throughout. Where the brave protagonist is depicted alongside her community, the illustrations feature people of all ages, skin tones, and clothing styles. Lindstrom’s powerful message includes non-Native and Native readers alike: “We are stewards of the Earth. We are water protectors.”

An inspiring call to action for all who care about our interconnected planet. (author’s note, glossary, illustrator’s note, Water Protector pledge) (Picture book. 5-12)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20355-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both.

FLASH FACTS

Flash, Batman, and other characters from the DC Comics universe tackle supervillains and STEM-related topics and sometimes, both.

Credited to 20 writers and illustrators in various combinations, the 10 episodes invite readers to tag along as Mera and Aquaman visit oceanic zones from epipelagic to hadalpelagic; Supergirl helps a young scholar pick a science-project topic by taking her on a tour of the solar system; and Swamp Thing lends Poison Ivy a hand to describe how DNA works (later joining Swamp Kid to scuttle a climate-altering scheme by Arcane). In other episodes, various costumed creations explain the ins and outs of diverse large- and small-scale phenomena, including electricity, atomic structure, forensic techniques, 3-D printing, and the lactate threshold. Presumably on the supposition that the characters will be more familiar to readers than the science, the minilectures tend to start from simple basics, but the figures are mostly both redrawn to look more childlike than in the comics and identified only in passing. Drawing styles and page designs differ from chapter to chapter but not enough to interrupt overall visual unity and flow—and the cast is sufficiently diverse to include roles for superheroes (and villains) of color like Cyborg, Kid Flash, and the Latina Green Lantern, Jessica Cruz. Appended lists of websites and science-based YouTube channels, plus instructions for homespun activities related to each episode, point inspired STEM-winders toward further discoveries.

Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both. (Graphic nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77950-382-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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