The right “stuff” for young readers who have wondered about the stars and about their place in space.

ONCE UPON A STAR

A POETIC JOURNEY THROUGH SPACE

The universe in a nutshell: “A mighty BOOM / a huge KERRANG / that scientists call / THE BIG BANG!”

Hernández’s semi-abstract illustrations are the stars of the show—bold visual statements founded on big shapes, dramatic silhouettes or contrasts, and deep-space fields through which swim clouds of stylized stars. In later scenes our local star seems almost lambent as it shines down on earthly flora and fauna. Carter’s metrics are less stellar, but his cosmology serves well enough as he takes young readers out to view the stars, then explains the explosive origins of space, time, and our very own sun, how planets formed, and how at last on Earth “life swam, crawled, flew.” Channeling Carl Sagan, he concludes “We’re from that star / that seems so far. / We’re made of stardust, / yes, we are. / So, what are you? / YOU’RE A STAR!” He rounds off his poetic flight by laying out the sun’s past and probable future in a list of factual “Sciencey Stuff” arranged as an acrostic. Three children, one white, two with different shades of brown skin, appear in the final scenes.

The right “stuff” for young readers who have wondered about the stars and about their place in space. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-57933-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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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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