Kids interested in cities and transport as well as fans of Richard Scarry–like busyness will be busy with this book for many...

THE WAY DOWNTOWN

ADVENTURES IN PUBLIC TRANSIT

Zoom is an imaginary, probably North American city with a diverse population and many public-transportation options.

Among its inhabitants and visitors are: four didgeridoo-playing street-performing siblings called the Zanies; Robbie, a first-grade photographer visiting his aunt; Agent Rybka, a white spy; Boris, a guide dog who leads his blind friend, Guy; and scientist Dr. Brody. Agent Rybka, Dr. Brody, and Guy all appear to be white; the Zanies and Robbie have brown skin. The named characters take various forms of transportation to their destination: Great Park. Dr. Brody takes a ferry to work with bike rides bookending the short voyage. Bike lanes and the bike-sharing system are explained. Robbie and his aunt take the bus to the subway. Agent Rybka, eluding people, takes an unusual route involving railroad trains and subways. The Zanies use their unicycles and the subway. They explain tickets and transit passes. Boris and Guy ride the light rail (defined in the extensive glossary), which has a Braille schedule. Everyone arrives in the park, including two strange creatures discovered by Dr. Brody in China. Very busy pen-and-ink–and-digital illustrations in a naïve style include maps, flow charts showing each character’s itinerary, cartoon panels (with speech balloons), and large double-page spreads. Lots of labeling and funny details keep readers poring over the pictures and make this book best for small groups or individual use. The text sometimes attempts too much in its complicated interweaving of human stories and transportation systems, but there’s much useful information to be absorbed.

Kids interested in cities and transport as well as fans of Richard Scarry–like busyness will be busy with this book for many readings. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77138-552-7

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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“Up and down” indeed.

UP & DOWN

THE ADVENTURES OF JOHN JEFFRIES, FIRST AMERICAN TO FLY

Brown’s latest (Older than Dirt, 2017, etc.) follows the journey of balloonist John Jeffries, doctor and meteorologist, through his flight across the English Channel in 1785.

At the end of the American Revolution, Jeffries, a Tory, fled to England, where he was swiftly engulfed in “balloon mania.” An avid amateur meteorologist, Jeffries was thrilled by the possibility of recording new information at different altitudes. Jeffries quickly teamed up with Frenchman Jean-Pierre Blanchard (husband of famed balloonist Sophie Blanchard) for two flights. For their second, the duo had an outlandish proposition: to be the first to fly across the English Channel from Britain to France. Unfortunately, the flight didn’t go as planned, and the duo was forced to unload as much ballast as possible—including their clothes—before ultimately landing unharmed, albeit underdressed, in France. Brown’s oil-pencil–and-watercolor illustrations are true to form, but readers may find themselves with more questions than answers thanks to uneven plotting and a lack of focus. Slight space is devoted to Jeffries pre-Channel flight, 18th-century ballooning culture, and the science of ballooning, while over half of the book is devoted to his most famous flight. Frustratingly, this causes the narrative to read like neither a full introductory biography of Jeffries’ life nor a strict account of the Channel flight. Jeffries, Blanchard, and spectators are all white.

“Up and down” indeed. (endnote, author’s note, bibliography, sources) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58089-812-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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A routine, juiceless candidate chugging straight for the storage yard.

TRAINS

From the Ultimate Spotlight series

How modern freight and passenger trains look and go, with flaps to offer inside views.

As exercises in bland generalities go, this French import stays solidly on the rails—pairing labels or colorless comments (“The engine car is the only part of the train with an engine”) to impersonal painted views of toylike trains. These all look inert, whether en route through artificial-looking settings or sitting at platforms amid diverse clots of small human figures, all with smiles and dot eyes, strolling or scurrying past. A spare assortment of flaps and pull tabs open sliding doors, show rows of empty or occupied seats, depict a select gallery of freight-car types, or allow glimpses of wheels, electrical arms, and the engineer in the cab. Aside from a postage-stamp–size image of a “Peruvian mountain train” and the barest nose of a maglev, the trains on view, named or not, are all European (or partly, in the case of the Trans-Siberian Railway).

A routine, juiceless candidate chugging straight for the storage yard. (Informational picture book/novelty. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 979-1-03631-358-5

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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