Readers may pick up a few “factoroids” along the way, but more systematic tours are available for the booking.

PROFESSOR ASTRO CAT'S ATOMIC ADVENTURE

From the Professor Astro Cat series

Space-suited science guide Astro Cat leads a tour of physics, from molecules to the multiverse.

The itinerary is broad but wanders all over the map. With Astro Mouse as sidekick and cameos from a supporting cast of animals and famous scientists, the fulsome feline begins with a description of how gravity works. The tour goes on with only occasional stabs at a logical order to cover the scientific method, a select few units of measurement, atomic structure, the periodic table, states of matter (the three classical ones, anyway), Newton’s laws of motion, light, electricity, quarks, dark energy, and a bagful of other topics. Similarly, the blocks of narrative and Newman’s retro-style cartoon figures are pieced together in assemblages of neatly rectilinear but hard-to-follow segments on the large, square pages. As explainers Walliman and Newman are anything but cool cats (atoms are “crazy small!”). If the language sometimes ventures into problematic territory—“Gravity is smaller on the Moon”; “The little 2 [in E=mc2] means you have to times everything by the speed of light twice”—at least their enthusiasm for exploring our “Strange Universe” comes through warmly enough to be contagious. A closing spread of miscellaneous “Factoroids” closes with an oratorical signoff: “KNOWLEDGE AWAITS!”

Readers may pick up a few “factoroids” along the way, but more systematic tours are available for the booking. (glossary/index) (Informational picture book. 9-11)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-909263-60-4

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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Long before Yogi Berra said, “You can observe a lot by watching,” Fabre proved it so.

SMALL WONDERS

JEAN-HENRI FABRE AND HIS WORLD OF INSECTS

The rewards of simply taking time to bend down for a closer look are celebrated in this tribute to the great French entomologist.

Seeing as a lad that “every patch of dirt and tangle of weeds buzzed with insects: dazzling beetles, ferocious wasps, sweet-singing crickets, and more,” young Fabre went on to devote a long life to watching common insects rather than just collecting dead specimens as most of his contemporary colleagues did. The distinctive, enduring affection with which he regarded his diminutive subjects regardless of their often savage behavior comes through clearly here, both in Smith’s warm narrative and Ferri’s equally engaging views of the naturalist. He delightedly discovers a shimmering hoplia beetle beneath a leaf, smiles from his sickbed as a handful of hibernating bees revives after his son carries them indoors, and is wonderstruck by an account of how Cerceris wasps paralyze beetles as live food for offspring. (The illustrator has a little fun with viewers by adding a looming insectile shadow as well as close-up views of hovering wasps in this last scene.) Fabre’s many original discoveries and insights won him renown, and though he is largely unknown to nonspecialists today, his nose-to-nose approach to the natural world is well worth commemorating to modern readers.

Long before Yogi Berra said, “You can observe a lot by watching,” Fabre proved it so. (historical note, timeline, author’s note, annotated source list) (Picture book/biography. 9-11)

Pub Date: May 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4778-2632-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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An alternative to the shelf full of picture-book biographies, for readers who may find Sheila Cole’s Dragon in the Cliff,...

MARY ANNING'S CURIOSITY

Carved out and buffed up from historical records, an imagined account of the great fossil hunter’s early life and groundbreaking career.

Following an account of the lightning strike that killed several adults but spared the 15-month-old Mary, Kulling skips ahead to record the child’s deep delight at getting a rock hammer for her eighth birthday. Between that and Anning’s laborious extraction of a great ichthyosaur skeleton at age 12, in 1811, the author chronicles her sometimes-hazardous search for fossil ammonites and other “curiosities” (as they were then called) to sell as the family livelihood—first with her father and then, after his disabling accident and early death, largely alone. Period details of everyday life in Lyme Regis, both in the narrative and in Castrillón’s delicate illustrations, and embroidered encounters with rival fossil hunters and collectors flesh out the story; notes at the end wire together explanations of what fossils are with descriptions of some of Anning’s other discoveries and their subsequent histories. Though here at least she seems almost relieved to quit school at the earliest opportunity to pursue her vocation, Mary presents an admirable role model for her lively mind, independent spirit, and a continuing sense of wonder that drives her to chip away at nature’s mysteries.

An alternative to the shelf full of picture-book biographies, for readers who may find Sheila Cole’s Dragon in the Cliff, illustrated by T.C. Farrow (1991) hard to read or get. (bibliography) (Historical fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55498-898-3

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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