A breezy, information-packed, visually attractive explanation of an important elementary school science topic.

THE REASON FOR THE SEASONS

From the Joulia Copernicus series

Joulia Copernicus, a young scientist in a white lab coat and safety goggles, returns to help readers learn why seasons exist.

In the jaunty first-person narration readers will remember from series opener It’s a Round, Round World! (2019), Joulia tells why many think the Earth has seasons: its orbit around the sun and its rotation. She demonstrates why these theories are incorrect and then introduces the answer: the role of Earth’s tilt. The logical structure starts with misconceptions and moves toward understanding, but it is the full-color illustrations, bristling with fun details pertaining to the seasons and anthropomorphic planetary bodies, that make this book stand out. Joulia’s obvious enthusiasm, accessible language, and the use of sequential visual formats actively involve kids in thinking about scientific concepts. The last page explains how Johannes Kepler’s discovery about 400 years ago regarding the Earth’s path has led to some of our confusion and also gives instructions for a simple experiment. Joulia presents white, as do the two other humans depicted. While other, diverse characters would be welcome, it’s good to see a capable girl excited about science. The seasons are those readers in the northern U.S. will recognize, although Joulia explains how variations occur near the equator and in the Southern Hemisphere.

A breezy, information-packed, visually attractive explanation of an important elementary school science topic. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63592-136-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness.

THE BRAIN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

An introduction to the lead guitar and vocalist for the Brainiacs—the human brain.

The brain (familiar to readers of Seluk’s “The Awkward Yeti” webcomic, which spun off the adult title Heart and Brain, 2015) looks like a dodgeball with arms and legs—pinkish, sturdy, and roundish, with a pair of square-framed spectacles bestowing an air of importance and hipness. Other organs of the body—tongue, lungs, stomach, muscle, and heart—are featured as members of the brain’s rock band (the verso of the dust jacket is a poster of the band). Seluk’s breezy, conversational prose and brightly colored, boldly outlined cartoon illustrations deliver basic information. The brain’s role in keeping the heart beating and other automatic functions, directing body movements, interpreting sights and sounds, remembering smells and tastes, and regulating sleep and hunger are all explained, prose augmented by dialogue balloons and information sidebars. Seluk points out, importantly, that feelings originate in the brain: “You can control how you react…but your feelings happen no matter what.” The parodied album covers on the front endpapers (including the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Green Day, Run DMC, Queen, Nirvana) will amuse parents—or at least grandparents—and the rear endpapers serve up band members’ clever social media and texting screenshots. Backmatter includes a glossary and further brain trivia but no resources or bibliography.

A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-16700-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A winning heads up for younger readers just becoming aware of the wider natural world.

DON'T LET THEM DISAPPEAR

An appeal to share concern for 12 familiar but threatened, endangered, or critically endangered animal species.

The subjects of Marino’s intimate, close-up portraits—fairly naturalistically rendered, though most are also smiling, glancing up at viewers through human eyes, and posed at rest with a cute youngling on lap or flank—steal the show. Still, Clinton’s accompanying tally of facts about each one’s habitat and daily routines, to which the title serves as an ongoing refrain, adds refreshingly unsentimental notes: “A single giraffe kick can kill a lion!”; “[S]hivers of whale sharks can sense a drop of blood if it’s in the water nearby, though they eat mainly plankton.” Along with tucking in collective nouns for each animal (some not likely to be found in major, or any, dictionaries: an “embarrassment” of giant pandas?), the author systematically cites geographical range, endangered status, and assumed reasons for that status, such as pollution, poaching, or environmental change. She also explains the specific meaning of “endangered” and some of its causes before closing with a set of doable activities (all uncontroversial aside from the suggestion to support and visit zoos) and a list of international animal days to celebrate.

A winning heads up for younger readers just becoming aware of the wider natural world. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51432-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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