Playfully persuades the most rock-averse readers to love rocks.

I'M TRYING TO LOVE ROCKS

This metafictional picture book about the science of rocks is saved by a child who jumps in to convince readers—and the book itself—that rocks are fascinating.

“This is a book about geology!” the first spread exclaims. A rock is declared “so rock-like” and “hard” before the narrator realizes that rocks “don’t really do much” and gives up, announcing “THE END.” But before readers can shut the book, a black girl with frizzy hair and large eyes calls out from the white space, “Wait!” In a back and forth with the narrator, the young scientist keeps the book going by pointing out that all the exciting topics the narrator is ready to move on to (volcanoes, diamonds, or fossils) are all a part of geology. The girl, who happens to be president of the rock club, takes on the challenge of making the narrator love rocks. Their humorous, tongue-in-cheek interaction will keep children entertained, all while educating readers about the science of geology, from the rock cycle to the process by which gemstones are formed. Chock full of facts, diagrams, and examples, including fun end pages, this book will reward readers who return to it frequently. Bold lines, lively colors, and clever use of white space make for an eye-catching read.

Playfully persuades the most rock-averse readers to love rocks. (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-451-48095-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Well-intentioned but likely to overwhelm the intended readers and listeners.

THE MESS THAT WE MADE

The cadences of a familiar nursery rhyme introduce concerns about ocean garbage and what we, who made the mess, can do to help clean it up.

With the rhyme and meter of “The House That Jack Built,” Lord builds the problem of plastic waste in the oceans from the fish that must swim through it to a netted seal, a trapped turtle, and overflowing landfills before turning to remedies: cleaning beaches and bays, reducing waste, and protesting the use of fishing nets. Two pages of backmatter describe problems in more detail, while a third elaborates potential solutions; suggestions for individual action are provided as well. Blattman’s images begin with a racially diverse group of youngsters in a small boat in the center of a plastic trash gyre. The children, shown at different angles, bob spread by spread over trash-filled waters. To accompany the words, “Look at the mess that we made,” she adds a polluted city skyline and a container ship belching smoke to the scene. Finally, the dismayed young boaters reach a beach where a clean-up is in process. From their little skiff they help scoop up trash, rescue the turtle, and wave protest signs. The message is important, even vital in today’s world, but many caregivers and many environmentalists would eschew this doomful approach as a means of introducing environmental concerns to the early-elementary audience who might be drawn in by the nursery rhyme.

Well-intentioned but likely to overwhelm the intended readers and listeners. (map) (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-947277-14-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flashlight Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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An amiable point-counterpoint for budding animal lovers/haters.

THE NOT BAD ANIMALS

Forty-two creatures of ill repute, from scorpions to hyenas, put on their best faces and protest that they’re just misunderstood.

In paired double-page spreads, Corrigan first presents for each animal the case for considering it scary or gross, then, with the page turn, allows it to contradict itself. “I’m creepy and I’m crawly,” a spider supposedly gloats. “I spin webs from my butt and leave them in places where I KNOW you’ll get stuck in them.” In the following spread, the spider points out that “Only half of my kind spin webs, and we really, REALLY don’t want you to get stuck in them!” Along with pointing to roles in the natural order and including many crowd-pleasing references to butts and poop, these counterarguments tend to run along the lines of the rat’s “I’m a fluffy little SWEETIE!” and the toad’s “I am a plump lump of CUTENESS!” Each testimonial is backed up by a box of background information baldly labeled “FACTS.” Readers may find the chorus of smiley faces and claims of adorability unconvincing, but they will at least come away with more nuanced impressions of each creepy-crawly. The humorous cartoon illustrations don’t measure up to the in-your-face photos of Seymour Simon’s classic Animals Nobody Loves (2001), but this gallery of beasties unfairly regarded as “icky and ewwy and downright gross” is considerably broader.

An amiable point-counterpoint for budding animal lovers/haters. (glossary) (Nonfiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4748-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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