A glimpse of the wilder side of wild nature, though the actual crunching and munching remain offstage.

POLAR ANIMALS

From the Ultimate Spotlight series

A pop-up survey of wildlife in Arctic, Antarctic, and tundra habitats.

In both art and narrative, food and family are definitely the prevailing themes. Here, an emperor penguin horks up a meal for his offspring while a southern giant petrel lurks nearby, hoping to snatch up a chick; there, pulling a tab dumps a basking seal into the water, where a pod of hungry orcas awaits. Elsewhere, moving a slider brings a newborn humpback whale into the world, a pop-up polar bear and her cub hover over holes in an ice floe, and Laboucarie informs readers that a leopard seal “would gladly munch on a penguin.” An arctic fox stalks a lemming in winter and in summer thanks to a double-gatefold view of the same tundra landscape in both seasons. Still, the carnage remains implicit, because for all the references to diet and predation, none of the animals here are actually depicted chowing down on one another. In a well-meaning if only marginally relevant gesture, four bundled-up children—one with brown skin, three with pale—play with toy cold-weather creatures on the title spread. They are not seen again and are the only human figures.

A glimpse of the wilder side of wild nature, though the actual crunching and munching remain offstage. (Informational pop-up picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 979-1-02760-878-2

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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Energetic enough to carry younger rocketeers off the launch pad if not into a very high orbit.

PROFESSOR ASTRO CAT'S SPACE ROCKETS

From the Professor Astro Cat series

The bubble-helmeted feline explains what rockets do and the role they have played in sending people (and animals) into space.

Addressing a somewhat younger audience than in previous outings (Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space, 2013, etc.), Astro Cat dispenses with all but a light shower of “factoroids” to describe how rockets work. A highly selective “History of Space Travel” follows—beginning with a crew of fruit flies sent aloft in 1947, later the dog Laika (her dismal fate left unmentioned), and the human Yuri Gagarin. Then it’s on to Apollo 11 in 1969; the space shuttles Discovery, Columbia, and Challenger (the fates of the latter two likewise elided); the promise of NASA’s next-gen Orion and the Space Launch System; and finally vague closing references to other rockets in the works for local tourism and, eventually, interstellar travel. In the illustrations the spacesuited professor, joined by a mouse and cat in similar dress, do little except float in space and point at things. Still, the art has a stylish retro look, and portraits of Sally Ride and Guion Bluford diversify an otherwise all-white, all-male astronaut corps posing heroically or riding blocky, geometric spacecraft across starry reaches.

Energetic enough to carry younger rocketeers off the launch pad if not into a very high orbit. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-911171-55-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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Blandly laudatory.

I AM WALT DISNEY

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

The iconic animator introduces young readers to each “happy place” in his life.

The tally begins with his childhood home in Marceline, Missouri, and climaxes with Disneyland (carefully designed to be “the happiest place on Earth”), but the account really centers on finding his true happy place, not on a map but in drawing. In sketching out his early flubs and later rocket to the top, the fictive narrator gives Ub Iwerks and other Disney studio workers a nod (leaving his labor disputes with them unmentioned) and squeezes in quick references to his animated films, from Steamboat Willie to Winnie the Pooh (sans Fantasia and Song of the South). Eliopoulos incorporates stills from the films into his cartoon illustrations and, characteristically for this series, depicts Disney as a caricature, trademark mustache in place on outsized head even in childhood years and child sized even as an adult. Human figures default to white, with occasional people of color in crowd scenes and (ahistorically) in the animation studio. One unidentified animator builds up the role-modeling with an observation that Walt and Mickey were really the same (“Both fearless; both resourceful”). An assertion toward the end—“So when do you stop being a child? When you stop dreaming”—muddles the overall follow-your-bliss message. A timeline to the EPCOT Center’s 1982 opening offers photos of the man with select associates, rodent and otherwise. An additional series entry, I Am Marie Curie, publishes simultaneously, featuring a gowned, toddler-sized version of the groundbreaking physicist accepting her two Nobel prizes.

Blandly laudatory. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2875-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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