A gallery of diminutive delights—but the appeal is superficial at best.

MINIATURE ADVENTURES

A POCKET-SIZED COLLECTION OF SMALL-SCALE WONDERS

From the Atlas of Adventures series

A little world tour of little things—from the smallest sea horse to the largest model railway.

With a small trim size suitable to the topic and diminutive narrative type to match (the latter not always a good idea, particularly when the background color is dark brown or purple), this gathering offers armchair travelers a small-scale mix of natural and constructed minimarvels on each continent. The 20 entries are placed on introductory and inset maps, and they’re depicted with miniscule exactitude in painted illustrations—many of these featuring a pair of avid young white tourists to show relative size. But for all that readers will come away with a yen to see the world’s smallest teddy bears in South Korea’s Teddy Bear Museum or play minigolf under black lights in Berlin, not to mention understanding the importance of krill to the Antarctic marine ecosystems, as a travel guide it’s all rather arbitrary and rough-hewn. Many creatures and sites appear on the introductory maps but nowhere else; there are no leads to more information about any of the selected wonders; and measurements throughout are in a casual mix of metric and English units.

A gallery of diminutive delights—but the appeal is superficial at best. (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-84780-909-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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Scanty for a stand-alone guide but definitely a vocabulary enricher.

MICROBES

A playful introduction to bacteria, viruses, fungi, algae, archaea, and protozoa.

Readers are going to need a basic grounding in cytology from the start, as Gallagher drops such terms as “nucleus” and “organelles” into the discourse without defining them and rushes past plasmids without explaining what they are or do. Likewise, though she fits out all of the jelly-bean–like cells and microbes in her lighthearted illustrations with expressive faces—not to mention occasional limbs, fashion accessories, and hair—she rarely includes recognizable biological components. She’s not particularly systematic either, as she mentions four major components of the human immune system but goes on to describe only two. More usefully, along with frequent mentions of how ubiquitous microbes are, her main focus seems to be laying out microbial types and subtypes, from the five shape-related groups of bacteria to the even more ancient archaea (Crenarchaeota, Euryarchaeota, and Korarchaeota), and describing their individual distinctions and how they reproduce. Polysyllabic as some of this content is, the breezy presentation should impart to general students, as well as budding microbiologists, a nodding acquaintance with our single-celled neighbors and residents.

Scanty for a stand-alone guide but definitely a vocabulary enricher. (glossary) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63411-009-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thunderstone Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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An unsuccessful foray into Persian history and legend.

BRAVE WITH BEAUTY

A STORY OF AFGHANISTAN

An illustrated profile of an ancient queen.

Seven hundred years ago, a 14-year-old girl named Goharshad married the powerful ruler Shah Rukh and became a queen. After moving to Herat, the stunning seat of her new husband’s empire, Goharshad dreamed of transforming her kingdom into something even more beautiful than it already was. For the rest of her reign, Goharshad funded and oversaw artistic projects ranging from the creation of a mosque to the construction of a library and a college intended to include women and girls. Goharshad persisted despite doubts about her decisions, creating a legacy that lasted until war and time destroyed her most impressive creations. This text-heavy book walks an uncertain line between fiction and nonfiction: Many passages that are presented as facts feel rooted in speculation, such as the musings of an “old man” who gathers the jeweled tiles that are all that remains of a building the queen constructed in Herat. Since the author provides no historical sources, it is hard to say what genre this is meant to be. The unnecessarily flowery language—which is, equally unnecessarily, printed in a stylized typeface—and the highly embellished illustrations are troubling and exoticizing. Furthermore, the tragic tone of the final pages renders this story one of loss, leaving readers with a deficit perspective of a troubled region with a rich and vibrant past. A classroom guide on the publisher's website provides extension activities but no further documentation for the story itself.

An unsuccessful foray into Persian history and legend. (Picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-949528-97-8

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Yali Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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