A timely if unpolished entry in the Little People, BIG DREAMS series.

STEPHEN HAWKING

From the Little People, BIG DREAMS series

A first introduction to the greatest scientist of the past half-century.

Hawking makes a worthy but not an easy subject for an elementary-grade profile, as the likelihood that younger audiences aren’t really up on the ins and outs of quantum theory or gravitational singularities limits the author’s tally of his scientific contributions to a mention (sans meaningful context) of “Hawking radiation.” His other claim to fame, as an exemplar of the triumph of mind over physical disability, is far easier to grasp. For this, Hunt’s cartoon-style illustrations of a smiling scientist with idealized features on an oversized head help reinforce the notion that, as Hawking put it, “However difficult life may seem, there is always something that you can do and succeed at.” He leans on a cane before a wall of mathematical notations, takes his children for a spin on his wheelchair, and lectures to a rapt audience. The author (or an uncredited translator) uses some inept phrasing—a bald observation that eventually he “lost his voice and found a new one with a robotic drawl” can only leave readers confused, for instance. Illustrations of crowds place the white scientist among diverse gatherings. A closing note offers photos and a bit more detail plus a trio of titles for older readers.

A timely if unpolished entry in the Little People, BIG DREAMS series. (Picture book/biography. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-333-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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Just the ticket to spark or nurture early interest in the wonders of the natural world.

EXTREME SURVIVORS

From the American Museum of Natural History Easy Readers series

“Extreme” gets a broad definition (ticks?), but the first-rate photographs and easy-to-read commentary in this survey of animals adapted to harsh habitats will win over budding naturalists.

Sixteen creatures ranging from hot-springs bacteria and the tiny but nearly invulnerable water bear to sperm whales parade past, sandwiched between an introductory spread and a full gallery of thumbnails that works as a content review. The animals are presented in an ordered way that expedites comparisons and contrasts of body features or environments. The sharply reproduced individual stock photos were all taken in the wild and include a mix of close-up portraits, slightly longer shots that show surroundings and more distant eyewitness views. The Roops present concrete facts in simple language—“Penguins have feathers and thick fat to keep them warm”—and vary the structures of their two- to four-sentence passages so that there is never a trace of monotony. Like its co-published and equally inviting title, Melissa Stewart’s World’s Fastest Animals, this otherwise polished series entry closes with a marginally relevant small-type profile of a herpetologist at the American Museum of Natural History.

Just the ticket to spark or nurture early interest in the wonders of the natural world. (Informational early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4549-0631-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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A useful title on a kid-friendly topic.

AND THAT'S THE TOOTH

Guess each animal from facts about their teeth combined with hints about their behavior, location, or anatomy.

A large white speech bubble appears on each recto page, mostly obscuring a photo of an animal. A statement about that animal’s teeth (or lack thereof, in the cases of anteaters and humpback whales) is followed by a hint about the animal’s traits to facilitate guessing. For example, “You can tell how old I am by the growth rings on my teeth. I am… / Hint: I live in water and am smart and social.” Bits of animals visible around the speech bubble also offer some clues. Some kids may have the answer; many young children will not. The page turn reveals a full-page photo, the animal’s name (dolphin, in this case) in large type, and a callout box with facts about its dental characteristics: “Bottlenose dolphins only get one set of teeth for their entire lives. They use their teeth to catch their food, and then they swallow it whole.” The book matter-of-factly introduces information about 11 land and sea animals as well as a human representative, a young child with Asian features. Backmatter defines herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores along with a short guessing game about these categories and presents a diagram of the human mouth with descriptions of its teeth. The full-color stock photos vary in quality. (Due to Covid complications, this book will publish in paperback on pub date and in hardcover in Jan. 2021.)

A useful title on a kid-friendly topic. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64351-818-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Arbordale Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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