A mildly agenda-driven companion to the less-cosmic likes of John Rocco’s Blackout (2011) or Jonathan Bean’s intimate At...

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BRIGHT SKY, STARRY CITY

A nighttime power outage transforms a young urban sky watcher’s frustration to joy.

Outside her father’s telescope shop, Phoebe chalks the solar system on the sidewalk, looks up at the faint, paltry sky show, and wishes that just once all the bright city lights would go out. A sudden storm grants her wish, and the clouds clear to reveal stars in the hundreds, constellations that she “had only ever seen / in pictures,” a rare conjunction of Saturn and Mars, and the pale, gauzy Milky Way. “How deep the night was / and how endless!” Using a mix of pastels, chalks, and collage, Sicuro depicts Phoebe looking, usually, up and marveling at the spangled skies, the connected dots of constellations, and the two easily recognizable planets floating in the vasty deep. Puzzling choices include showing Phoebe peering through a telescope pointed down rather than up and lifting her arms in a final scene to a sky that looks more washed out than on previous pages. Still, views of her, her father, and wonderstruck passersby gazing up past crowded rooftops capture a strong sense of a special, shared moment. Along with a quixotic kvetch about light pollution, the author appends quick descriptions of the solar system, moons, planetary conjunctions, and optical telescopes.

A mildly agenda-driven companion to the less-cosmic likes of John Rocco’s Blackout (2011) or Jonathan Bean’s intimate At Night (2007). (bibliography, glossary) (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-55498-405-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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Readers (and listeners) will think that this book is the bee’s knees.

THE HONEYBEE

Children will be buzzing to learn more about honeybees after reading this story.

Hall takes her readers on a sunny romp through a springtime pasture abuzz with friendly honeybees in this bright and cheerful picture book. Hall’s rhyme scheme is inviting and mirrors the staccato sounds of a bee buzzing. At times, however, meaning seems to take a back seat to the rhyme. The bees are suggested to “tap” while flying, a noise that adult readers might have trouble explaining to curious listeners. Later, the “hill” the bees return to may elicit further questions, as this point is not addressed textually or visually. Minor quibbles aside, the vocabulary is on-point as the bees demonstrate the various stages of nectar collection and honey creation. Arsenault’s illustrations, a combination of ink, gouache, graphite, and colored pencil, are energetic and cheerful. Extra points should be awarded for properly illustrating a natural honeybee hive (as opposed to the often depicted wasp nest). The expressive bees are also well-done. Their faces are welcoming, but their sharp noses hint at the stingers that may be lurking behind them. Hall’s ending note to readers will be appreciated by adults but will require their interpretation to be accessible to children. A sensible choice for read-alouds and STEAM programs.

Readers (and listeners) will think that this book is the bee’s knees. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6997-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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The outing may earn a few clicks from hand-wringing parents; young digerati will roll their eyes and go back to texting.

TEK

THE MODERN CAVE BOY

McDonnell has a bone to pick with a young Stone Age gamer who won’t leave the family cave.

The Caldecott Honor–winning cartoonist takes an uncharacteristically curmudgeonly tone in this tablet-shaped book. Depicted, in black-framed, rounded-cornered illustrations designed to look like screenshots, in front of the stone TV with tablet and game controller to hand “all day, all night, all the time,” Tek ignores the pleas of his huge dino best friend, Larry, and all others to come out. “You should never have invented the Internet,” his mom grunts to his dad. Having missed out on evolution and an entire Ice Age, Tek is finally disconnected by a helpful volcano’s eruption—and of course is completely reformed once he gets a gander at the warm sun, cool grass, and an “awesome Awesomesaurus.” “Sweet.” Afterward, in joyous full-bleed paintings, he frolics with Larry by day and reaches for the “glorious stars” by night. This screed is as subtle as a tap from a stone axe. James Proimos’ Todd’s TV (2010) and If You Give a Mouse an iPhone by “Ann Droyd” (2014) are funnier; Matthew Cordell’s buoyant Hello! Hello! (2012) is more likely to spark a bit of behavior change. Tek and his parents are reminiscent of the Flintstones, with pink skin and dark, frizzy hair.

The outing may earn a few clicks from hand-wringing parents; young digerati will roll their eyes and go back to texting. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-33805-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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