Solid science concepts about seeds muddied by a segue into preschool pop-psych.


Lemniscates considers seeds, both as tiny biological powerhouses and metaphors for human potential.

“Seeds carry the power of life. / So they embark on amazing adventures.” Clear, stylized illustrations show seed dispersal, via wind and an ant colony. A double-page spread depicts the stages of a pumpkin seed from germination to blossoming. One vine—from one seed—“brings dozens of pumpkins. // And each pumpkin brings hundreds of seeds!” After examining an orchid’s progress from a tiny seed and observing that seeds can sprout in harsh conditions, Lemniscates swerves awkwardly into analogy. “A smile is a powerful seed. / … / But there are also seeds that bring anger and misunderstanding. / When those seeds grow, they pull us apart.” Indeed, two children formerly seen to be cooperating now engage in a tug of war over a basket of fruit they’ve picked. Bright pictures resemble a combination of print and collage, with swaths of textured color and snipped and applied shapes. Diversity is indicated by variations in hairstyle and skin tone. A harmonious conclusion shows a diverse group of friends playing ring-around-the-rosie accompanied by a vague address to readers: “Seeds have whole worlds inside them, / just like you.” While coaching from determined adults may enable young children to understand some of the metaphorical material, Lemniscates is on more solid ground with the clear botanical science that she introduces here.

Solid science concepts about seeds muddied by a segue into preschool pop-psych. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0844-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick Studio

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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Captivating—and not a bit terrifying.


From the Block Books series

Catering to young scientists, naturalists, and Shark Week fans–to-be, this visually arresting volume presents a good deal of information in easily digested bites.

Like others in the Block Books series, this book feels both compact and massive. When closed, it is 5.5 inches across, 6.5 inches tall, and nearly 2 inches thick, weighty and solid, with stiff cardboard pages that boast creative die cuts and numerous fold-out three- and four-panel tableaux. While it’s possible it’s not the only book with a dorsal fin, it certainly must be among the best. The multiracial cast of aquarium visitors includes a Sikh man with his kids and a man of color who uses a wheelchair; there they discover the dramatic degree of variations among sharks. The book begins with a trip to a shark exhibit, complete with a megalodon jaw. The text points out that there are over 400 known types of sharks alive today, then introduces 18 examples, including huge whale sharks, tiny pocket sharks, and stealthy, well-camouflaged wobbegongs. Reef sharks prowl the warm waters of the surface, while sand tiger sharks explore shipwrecks on the ocean floor. Bioluminescent catsharks reside at the bottom of an inky black flap that folds down, signifying the deepest ocean depths, where no sunlight penetrates. Great whites get star treatment with four consecutive two-page spreads; their teeth and appetite impress but don’t horrify. The book does a wonderful job of highlighting the interconnectedness of species and the importance of environmental stewardship.

Captivating—and not a bit terrifying. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4119-7

Page Count: 84

Publisher: abramsappleseed

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Adults looking for an easy entry into this subject will not be disappointed.


From the Baby University series

This book presents a simplified explanation of the role the atmosphere plays in controlling climate.

The authors present a planet as a ball and its atmosphere as a blanket that envelops the ball. If the blanket is thick, the planet will be hot, as is the case for Venus. If the blanket is thin, the planet is cold, as with Mars. Planet Earth has a blanket that traps “just the right amount of heat.” The authors explain trees, animals, and oceans are part of what makes Earth’s atmosphere “just right.” “But…Uh-oh! People on Earth are changing the blanket!” The book goes on to explain how some human activities are sending “greenhouse gases” into the atmosphere, thus “making the blanket heavier and thicker” and “making Earth feel unwell.” In the case of a planet feeling unwell, what would the symptoms be? Sea-level rises that lead to erosion, flooding, and island loss, along with extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, blizzards, and wildfires. Ending on a constructive note, the authors name a few of the remedies to “help our Earth before it’s too late!” By using the blanket analogy, alongside simple and clear illustrations, this otherwise complex topic becomes very accessible to young children, though caregivers will need to help with the specialized vocabulary.

Adults looking for an easy entry into this subject will not be disappointed. (Board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8082-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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