Thoughtful and thought-provoking, this book will plant the seeds of environmental activism in young readers.

THE LAST STRAW

KIDS VS. PLASTICS

A blend of STEM and poetry, this multidisciplinary book artfully explains the benefits and problems of plastics and encourages activism and alternatives.

A variety of short topical verses for younger listeners is supplemented by short prose paragraphs with additional details for older readers. Illustrations that alternate between striking full-color double-page spreads and smaller colorful vignettes surrounded by white space are guaranteed to grab attention. In the two spreads that open the volume, a community map explains where plastics are commonly found, and an abecedary shows where plastics hide. The plastic content in items like eyeglasses and helmets might be obvious, but the notion that plastic is in chewing gum and cash will probably surprise readers. Interesting, fairly in-depth information about the life cycle of a discarded plastic fork, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a trash-collecting contraption in Baltimore’s river, uses for recycled plastics, potential solutions for plastic pollution that involve jellyfish or caterpillars, and alternatives to single-use plastic items follows. In addition to pages that specifically encourage activism, many pages feature quotes from young activists from around the world, and illustrations reflect a similar diversity. A hidden gem in the ample backmatter, Poetry Notes identify and explain the numerous poetic forms that make up the text. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 41.9% of actual size.)

Thoughtful and thought-provoking, this book will plant the seeds of environmental activism in young readers. (author’s note, timeline, additional resources) (Informational picture book/poetry. 5-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-298139-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A quick flight but a blast from first to last.

EVERYTHING AWESOME ABOUT SPACE AND OTHER GALACTIC FACTS!

From the Everything Awesome About… series

A charged-up roundup of astro-facts.

Having previously explored everything awesome about both dinosaurs (2019) and sharks (2020), Lowery now heads out along a well-traveled route, taking readers from the Big Bang through a planet-by-planet tour of the solar system and then through a selection of space-exploration highlights. The survey isn’t unique, but Lowery does pour on the gosh-wow by filling each hand-lettered, poster-style spread with emphatic colors and graphics. He also goes for the awesome in his selection of facts—so that readers get nothing about Newton’s laws of motion, for instance, but will come away knowing that just 65 years separate the Wright brothers’ flight and the first moon landing. They’ll also learn that space is silent but smells like burned steak (according to astronaut Chris Hadfield), that thanks to microgravity no one snores on the International Space Station, and that Buzz Aldrin was the first man on the moon…to use the bathroom. And, along with a set of forgettable space jokes (OK, one: “Why did the carnivore eat the shooting star?” “Because it was meteor”), the backmatter features drawing instructions for budding space artists and a short but choice reading list. Nods to Katherine Johnson and NASA’s other African American “computers” as well as astronomer Vera Rubin give women a solid presence in the otherwise male and largely White cast of humans. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A quick flight but a blast from first to last. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-35974-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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