VEGGIE POWER

In this companion book to Flower Power (with text by Christine Paxmann, translated by Jane Michael, 2020), the renowned illustrator’s favorite veggies pair with text that offers history, scientific facts, and cultural anecdotes.

Hajek’s stylized art—revealing, among other traditions, Renaissance and folkloric influences—never fails to attract the eye and keep it there for a while. The introduction’s conversational text claims that each picture “tells you a fairy tale,” which might mislead readers into racking their brains for associated traditional tales. (The endnotes contain a better explanation of how to parse the artwork.) The text begins with a lighthearted lesson in distinguishing fruits from vegetables according to cooks versus botanists. Each ensuing page turn reveals on the verso a colorful heading naming one or two veggies along with facts including the presence of dangerous lectin in uncooked beans, the largest pumpkin on record, and artificial movie snow made from white potatoes. Each page of text faces a colorful, whimsical illustration. (Since the artist could not resist painting an exceptional corn illustration, the text is quick to mention that corn is not technically a vegetable or fruit.) The text is entertaining and edifying and sprinkled with enough pee and fart stories to buoy lagging attention spans. The history is Eurocentric but gives a clear acknowledgment of the ills of colonialism. Many of the people in the illustrations present as people of color. Animals also abound among depictions of enormous, gorgeous veggies. Popeye and a vampire achieve cameo appearances in the spinach and garlic entries, respectively. (This book was reviewed digitally with 14.1-by-21.2-inch double-page spreads viewed at 75% of actual size.)

Stimulating gourmet fare. (index) (Informational picture book. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-3-7913-7478-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Prestel

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge, certain to inspire deep thoughts.

YOUR PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE

From a Caldecott and Sibert honoree, an invitation to take a mind-expanding journey from the surface of our planet to the furthest reaches of the observable cosmos.

Though Chin’s assumption that we are even capable of understanding the scope of the universe is quixotic at best, he does effectively lead viewers on a journey that captures a sense of its scale. Following the model of Kees Boeke’s classic Cosmic View: The Universe in Forty Jumps (1957), he starts with four 8-year-old sky watchers of average height (and different racial presentations). They peer into a telescope and then are comically startled by the sudden arrival of an ostrich that is twice as tall…and then a giraffe that is over twice as tall as that…and going onward and upward, with ellipses at each page turn connecting the stages, past our atmosphere and solar system to the cosmic web of galactic superclusters. As he goes, precisely drawn earthly figures and features in the expansive illustrations give way to ever smaller celestial bodies and finally to glimmering swirls of distant lights against gulfs of deep black before ultimately returning to his starting place. A closing recap adds smaller images and additional details. Accompanying the spare narrative, valuable side notes supply specific lengths or distances and define their units of measure, accurately explain astronomical phenomena, and close with the provocative observation that “the observable universe is centered on us, but we are not in the center of the entire universe.”

A stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge, certain to inspire deep thoughts. (afterword, websites, further reading) (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4623-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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