Despite enticing visuals, does not serve the armchair traveler well.

READ REVIEW

UNDERGROUND

SUBWAY SYSTEMS AROUND THE WORLD

An unusual seek-and-find book about subways in 10 countries around the world.

Each section (in alphabetical order, by city name) starts with a double-page spread offering a horizontal panel of basic facts. Above this is a view of the train exteriors, with windows showing the people inside. On the right-hand side, a three-quarter page opens to reveal another double-page spread, which focuses on the people in the train cars and the stations. This design allows a panel with nine or 10 objects, labeled “Find,” related to the city and country to appear on the right on each spread of each section. The illustrations are intensely colored, with heavy black outlines used to delineate each stylized figure. Every glimpse brings a story to life, with a broad range of diverse characters taking part. Family groups, friends, individuals are all pictured as they would be on trains everywhere. People are eating, drinking, and taking selfies. Most, although not all, of the objects to be found are explained in a glossary, which holds mystifying gaps. Why not explain what a balalaika is or the significance of a Russian bear? Why define kimchi but not bibimbap? The illustrations definitely engage the reader, and finding the objects will be fun, but the presentation leaves something to be desired, both for the true subway aficionado and the child (or adult helper) looking for cultural background.

Despite enticing visuals, does not serve the armchair traveler well. (map) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-908714-63-3

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Cicada Books

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad.

THE BIG BEYOND

THE STORY OF SPACE TRAVEL

A capsule history of space exploration, from early stargazing to probes roaming the surface of Mars.

In loosely rhymed couplets Carter’s high-speed account zooms past the inventions of constellations, telescopes, and flying machines to the launches of Sputnik I, the “Saturn Five” (spelled out, probably, to facilitate the rhyme) that put men on the moon, and later probes. He caps it all with an enticing suggestion: “We’ll need an astronaut (or two)— / so what do you think? Could it be YOU?” Cushley lines up a notably diverse array of prospective young space travelers for this finish, but anachronistic earlier views of a dark-skinned astronaut floating in orbit opposite poetic references to the dogs, cats, and other animals sent into space in the 1950s and a model of the space shuttle on a shelf next to a line of viewers watching the televised moon landing in 1969 show no great regard for verisimilitude. Also, his full-page opening picture of the Challenger, its ports painted to look like a smiley face, just moments before it blew up is a decidedly odd choice to illustrate the poem’s opening countdown. As with his cosmological lyric Once upon a Star (2018, illustrated by Mar Hernández), the poet closes with a page of further facts arranged as an acrostic.

Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68010-147-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A routine, juiceless candidate chugging straight for the storage yard.

TRAINS

From the Ultimate Spotlight series

How modern freight and passenger trains look and go, with flaps to offer inside views.

As exercises in bland generalities go, this French import stays solidly on the rails—pairing labels or colorless comments (“The engine car is the only part of the train with an engine”) to impersonal painted views of toylike trains. These all look inert, whether en route through artificial-looking settings or sitting at platforms amid diverse clots of small human figures, all with smiles and dot eyes, strolling or scurrying past. A spare assortment of flaps and pull tabs open sliding doors, show rows of empty or occupied seats, depict a select gallery of freight-car types, or allow glimpses of wheels, electrical arms, and the engineer in the cab. Aside from a postage-stamp–size image of a “Peruvian mountain train” and the barest nose of a maglev, the trains on view, named or not, are all European (or partly, in the case of the Trans-Siberian Railway).

A routine, juiceless candidate chugging straight for the storage yard. (Informational picture book/novelty. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 979-1-03631-358-5

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more