A love story to light and color, both educational and visually stunning.



An exploration of the workings and gifts of light.

Matter can be solid, liquid, or gas—but what about light? “What is it made of? How does it fit alongside everything else in the world?” Light is energy, and Wick’s photographs—huge, glossy, and crystal clear—glow with it. On the first spread, a shaft of light, a beaker of water, and some rocks appear almost mystical. Next, a close-up of a candle with its wick aflame is downright hypnotic; across from it, a sequence of small photos show a match striking a rock and flaring up. Later, another progression shows three incandescent sources—candle, bulb, sun—each in turn lighting a teacup-saucer-spoon arrangement that never varies in placement, effectively demonstrating how lighting alters color. The text examines incandescence, iridescence, refraction, the relationship between light waves and colors, pigments, magnification, heat, fire, and the sun—always clearly and in concert with spellbinding photographs. The radiant illustrations show color spectrums, light shining through and across various objects, almost-magic tricks of light, and demonstrations of light waves that use water as a visible symbol. Scrupulously, Wick acknowledges that photographs in books “cannot fully capture the purity and intensity of color that’s observed directly by the human eye”—but these will enrapture even readers too young to fully comprehend the science. A meticulous, adult-directed author’s note elaborating on the principles covered will help caregivers answer curious children’s further questions.

A love story to light and color, both educational and visually stunning. (Informational picture book. 6-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-439-16587-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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Science at its best: informative and gross.


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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Not a complete world, but rewarding fare nonetheless for both young cartografiends and armchair travelers.


A tourist atlas of sorts, in which maps of select countries are reduced to little more than natural and political borders to serve as backdrops for thousands of small images.

Arranged by continent—with Europe’s section first and by far the largest—the maps each fill an oversized spread. All are the same size, so that, without regard for scale, the illustrators allot Iceland and New Zealand the same space as, for instance, Antarctica and Russia (including Siberia). Every map teems with labeled, colored drawings of characteristic wildlife and local residents, renowned figures from history and legend, major cities and landforms, famous buildings, important industries, foods, foliage, works of art, musical instruments, and other place-linked sights and items. The images overflow into neighboring oceans and seas, where they share space with pictures of sea life, boats and water sports. Sidestepping the stereotypical tendencies common to older illustrated maps, here human figures sport modern dress as well as regional costume (with labels for most of the latter that note “traditional dress”) and, often, specific tribal or cultural identifications. Flags and basic facts are tucked into the corners, but the intent here is plainly to present crazy-quilt impressions of each country’s history and culture rather than systematic geophysical information.

Not a complete world, but rewarding fare nonetheless for both young cartografiends and armchair travelers. (Informational picture book. 6-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6896-9

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Big Picture/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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