A rare misfire from Sayre.

CITYSCAPE

WHERE SCIENCE AND ART MEET

An eclectic collection of photos of architecture is linked by simple rhymes in large type, highlighting the visual confluence of engineering and art.

A photo depicting electrical wires against a building with corrugated siding is accompanied by the text “Lines merge, / diverge, divide,” followed by “Science, math, art / live side by side” on the facing page, accompanying photos of a statue of a lion, a tiled wall, and a close-up of a grille of some sort. Similarly, curves, triangles, and other geometric elements are evoked in photos of skyscrapers, bridges, cranes, and sculpture. In places, the concept seems too advanced for the likely audience. “Structures transmit,” set against a photo of electrical transformers, is shown opposite the text “transport, / and power,” which accompanies four photos: of people riding a Vespa, a fire engine, an overhead view of a recreational kayaker, and a view of the U.S. Capitol with a school bus in the foreground. Readers will be understandably confused as they try to parse this sentence. Are the scooter, fire engine, and kayak to be read as “structures”? Is the picture of the Capitol dome a play on the word “power”? Most of the generic cityscape images seem to be of Chicago, with landmark structures from Machu Picchu, London, Paris, and other cities mixed in. A concluding spread contains questions for children to consider as they navigate cities.

A rare misfire from Sayre. (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289331-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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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Science at its best: informative and gross.

DO NOT LICK THIS BOOK

Why not? Because “IT’S FULL OF GERMS.”

Of course, Ben-Barak rightly notes, so is everything else—from your socks to the top of Mount Everest. Just to demonstrate, he invites readers to undertake an exploratory adventure (only partly imaginary): First touch a certain seemingly blank spot on the page to pick up a microbe named Min, then in turn touch teeth, shirt, and navel to pick up Rae, Dennis, and Jake. In the process, readers watch crews of other microbes digging cavities (“Hey kid, brush your teeth less”), spreading “lovely filth,” and chowing down on huge rafts of dead skin. For the illustrations, Frost places dialogue balloons and small googly-eyed cartoon blobs of diverse shape and color onto Rundgren’s photographs, taken using a scanning electron microscope, of the fantastically rugged surfaces of seemingly smooth paper, a tooth, textile fibers, and the jumbled crevasses in a belly button. The tour concludes with more formal introductions and profiles for Min and the others: E. coli, Streptococcus, Aspergillus niger, and Corynebacteria. “Where will you take Min tomorrow?” the author asks teasingly. Maybe the nearest bar of soap.

Science at its best: informative and gross. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17536-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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