A flawed picture book about the origins of life.

WHERE DID WE COME FROM?

A SIMPLE EXPLORATION OF THE UNIVERSE, EVOLUTION, AND PHYSICS

This exploration of evolution is laid out in very simple terms for young readers.

The book begins by tracing the development of matter from a quark to a solar system. It then describes the evolution of life at the genetic level, invoking the theory of natural selection using simple, child-friendly terms. Next, it explores where children come from and how scientific theories are created and tested. The text ends by circling back to a reminder about particles and quarks; this is confusing, as it reverses the book’s original claim that quarks become particles. Each page of the book features one short phrase and one illustration that seem meant to spark conversation. Should a parent want to learn more, there are notes on each term at the book’s close. The book’s text is simple but lyrical, aimed at very young readers. The pictures are bold and clever, utilizing a vibrant color palette sure to engage children. Unfortunately, several of the pages are problematic. The use of a male and female couple feels heteronormative—especially considering that an increasing number of same-sex couples are having babies that are genetically related to them—and the use of the word tribeis antiquated and outdated. Other pages suffer from missed opportunities, such as the use of Einstein to represent a scientist rather than someone equally recognizable but more diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A flawed picture book about the origins of life. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7122-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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A delightful story of love and hope.

OUR SUBWAY BABY

Families are formed everywhere—including large metropolitan mass-transit systems!

Baby Kevin, initially known as “Danny ACE Doe,” was found in the New York City’s 14th Street subway station, which serves the A-C-E lines, by one of his future fathers, Danny. Kevin’s other father, Pete (author Mercurio), serves as the narrator, explaining how the two men came to add the newborn to their family. Readers are given an abridged version of the story from Danny and Pete’s point of view as they work to formally adopt Kevin and bring him home in time for Christmas. The story excels at highlighting the determination of loving fathers while still including realistic moments of hesitation, doubt, and fear that occur for new and soon-to-be parents. The language is mindful of its audience (for example using “piggy banks” instead of “bank accounts” to discuss finances) while never patronizing young readers. Espinosa’s posterlike artwork—which presents the cleanest New York readers are ever likely to see—extends the text and makes use of unexpected angles to heighten emotional scenes and moments of urgency. The diversity of skin tones, ages, and faces (Danny and Pete both present white, and Kevin has light brown skin) befits the Big Apple. Family snapshots and a closing author’s note emphasize that the most important thing in any family is love. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.3-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 43% of actual size.)

A delightful story of love and hope. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-42754-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard.

HELLO AUTUMN!

Rotner follows Hello Spring (2017) with this salute to the fall season.

Name a change seen in northern climes in fall, and Rotner likely covers it here, from plants, trees, and animals to the food we harvest: seeds are spread, the days grow shorter and cooler, the leaves change and fall (and are raked up and jumped in), some animals migrate, and many families celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving. As in the previous book, the photographs (presented in a variety of sizes and layouts, all clean) are the stars here, displaying both the myriad changes of the season and a multicultural array of children enjoying the outdoors in fall. These are set against white backgrounds that make the reddish-orange print pop. The text itself uses short sentences and some solid vocabulary (though “deep sleep” is used instead of “hibernate”) to teach readers the markers of autumn, though in the quest for simplicity, Rotner sacrifices some truth. In several cases, the addition of just a few words would have made the following oversimplified statements reflect reality: “Birds grow more feathers”; “Cranberries float and turn red.” Also, Rotner includes the statement “Bees store extra honey in their hives” on a page about animals going into deep sleep, implying that honeybees hibernate, which is false.

Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3869-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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