Handsome bookmaking, integral cultural information, and dynamic illustrations interact perfectly.


This volume, counting to 12 in both English and Kunwinjku, presents illustrated information about animals found in West Arnhem Land, in Australia’s Northern Territory.

Each entry includes the digit, the written numeral in a descriptive phrase, and a general species name in both languages. The text color for the digit and written numerals is ochre—helpful, since Kunwinjku numerals can be multiple words. Several paragraphs precisely describe the animal’s natural habitat, characteristics, and significance to the Aboriginal peoples of West Arnhem Land. Often, these animals are valued as food, and both traditional and modern methods of hunting and cooking them are mentioned. On the page counting “Eight water pythons / slithering in the mud / Kunbidkudji dja danjbik / borlokko karribirri wake / kukih,” Maralngurra and Wright explain, “We hunt for borlokko by searching for them in the water with our hands. They have small, sharp teeth, but they aren’t venomous.” When appropriate, he makes cultural distinctions in how different regional groups relate to the species. “Duwa people…cannot eat borlokko because of their religious beliefs, but Yirridjdja people (another group) can.” Animals include spoonbills, echidnas, turtles, and knob-tailed geckos. The exquisite illustrations derive inspiration in technique, colors, and visual iconography from ancient rock paintings preserved within the region. Intricate ink hatching, or rarrk, “x-ray style” (the depiction of the animals’ insides), and a traditional palette of ochre, browns, white, and black richly distinguish this work. Maralngurra is a member of the Ngaingbali clan; Wright is of settler heritage.

Handsome bookmaking, integral cultural information, and dynamic illustrations interact perfectly. (further information, artist bio, pronunciation notes) (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-59270-356-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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Science at its best: informative and gross.


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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A stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge, certain to inspire deep thoughts.


From a Caldecott and Sibert honoree, an invitation to take a mind-expanding journey from the surface of our planet to the furthest reaches of the observable cosmos.

Though Chin’s assumption that we are even capable of understanding the scope of the universe is quixotic at best, he does effectively lead viewers on a journey that captures a sense of its scale. Following the model of Kees Boeke’s classic Cosmic View: The Universe in Forty Jumps (1957), he starts with four 8-year-old sky watchers of average height (and different racial presentations). They peer into a telescope and then are comically startled by the sudden arrival of an ostrich that is twice as tall…and then a giraffe that is over twice as tall as that…and going onward and upward, with ellipses at each page turn connecting the stages, past our atmosphere and solar system to the cosmic web of galactic superclusters. As he goes, precisely drawn earthly figures and features in the expansive illustrations give way to ever smaller celestial bodies and finally to glimmering swirls of distant lights against gulfs of deep black before ultimately returning to his starting place. A closing recap adds smaller images and additional details. Accompanying the spare narrative, valuable side notes supply specific lengths or distances and define their units of measure, accurately explain astronomical phenomena, and close with the provocative observation that “the observable universe is centered on us, but we are not in the center of the entire universe.”

A stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge, certain to inspire deep thoughts. (afterword, websites, further reading) (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4623-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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