An engagingly illustrated work that brings a compelling concept to life.

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Urban environmentalist and educator Sando makes green architecture accessible to an elementary school audience in this picture-book debut.

The rooftops of New York City come in several colors: blue, black, silver, stone, and green. Sando briefly describes the reasons behind the other structures’ hues before delving into the subject of green roofs and how planting atop buildings can have a tremendous environmental and emotional impact. In well-labeled diagrams and instructional illustrations, the author, along with illustrator Lehar, reveals the layered structure that makes planting atop a roof naturally beneficial. Sando also makes sure to mention the positive impact it can have on people, who “work and feel better when they look at nature.” Sando seamlessly introduces scientific terms (such as compression, tension, habitat), providing definitions inline or in a callout where necessary as well as in a glossary. Lehar’s bright cartoon illustrations depict real New York landmarks with green roofs to show the variety of appearances they can have as well as a variety of New Yorkers. The text’s complexity is best suited for independent readers at the second- or third-grade level, but teachers will also find plenty of plain-language classroom material here.

An engagingly illustrated work that brings a compelling concept to life.

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73416-720-7

Page Count: 27

Publisher: Nausicaa Valley Press

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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High-interest topic and eye-catching visuals—but a few rough spots keep it off the top shelf.


A photo gallery of dangerous microbes, with basic guidelines for keeping them at bay.

Though the quality of the microphotography falls off when Levine gets to explaining the immune-system roles that various types of white blood cells play, overall the pictures are the stars of the show. Most are big, bright of hue, and so clear that even the smallest physical details of bugs from E. coli to coronavirus stand out in sharp, precise definition. “Who would have imagined,” writes Levine, “that they would be so interesting and beautiful to look at?” The author’s strenuous efforts to keep her commentary simple may leave readers confused about whether all germs are by definition “bad” or are often or in certain conditions harmless or even beneficial (and it doesn’t help that germ doesn’t rate an entry in the closing glossary). Still, her concise notes about where each type or species of common bacterium, protozoan, fungus, and virus she names is typically found, the maladies they cause, and how vaccines, hand-washing, wearing masks, and other preventive measures can lend our sophisticated immune systems a hand are as clear as they are timely. Other introductions to the microworld, such as Steve Mould’s The Bacteria Book (2018) and Amy Gallagher’s Microbes (2017), offer broader informational pictures, but their cartoon illustrations may, for some, make that world seem a little less real.

High-interest topic and eye-catching visuals—but a few rough spots keep it off the top shelf. (bibliography, list of medical occupations) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7284-3673-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Effectively makes the case that we are all biological boardinghouses.



A quick introduction to some of the teeming tenants who call the human body “Home, Sweet Home.”

Squeamish readers may want to go slow: “My name is Demodex and I live on your face!” proclaims one eight-legged micro-critter at the beginning. Led by a preteen lad who poses for internal views, human figures with generically beige skin share space in cartoon illustrations with hordes of mottled, anthropomorphic blobs in diverse bright hues that wave, smile, and scurry busily over magnified interior fleshscapes. Brosnan, rightly pointing out that microbes live “EVERYWHERE” and that there are more of them in our bodies than actual human cells, nods to archaea, fungi, and other types of microscopic life but sticks largely to bacteria as she conducts a tour of the digestive system’s residents. Focusing more on functions than polysyllabic names (though there are plenty of the latter), she mentions pathogens and disease but keeps the tone positive by highlighting the roles common beneficial species play in nutrition, health, and maintaining a balanced intestinal ecosystem. She makes a puzzling claim that viruses cannot “evolve” and offers a woefully incomplete view of manure’s agricultural benefits, in addition to introducing as uncomplicated fact the benefits of probiotics and fecal matter transplants and failing to explore why farmers feel it’s important to feed their animals antibiotics. Still, as a unicellular fellow traveler puts it toward the end, there’s “plenty to chew on” here. This U.K. import’s British spellings and metric measurements remain unaltered.

Effectively makes the case that we are all biological boardinghouses. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-908714-72-5

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Cicada Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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