Both an intriguing introduction to astronomy and an involving tale of a strong woman who overcame adversity.

SHE CAUGHT THE LIGHT

WILLIAMINA STEVENS FLEMING: ASTRONOMER

A scientific dreamer grounded in hard work.

Poetic, accessible text combines with intricate, appealing illustrations to portray Williamina Stevens Fleming (1857-1911), talented astronomer, resilient and highly intelligent individual, and the first woman given an official title (curator of astronomical photographs) at Harvard University. Her early years are gracefully depicted (her exposure to the magic of chemistry and light via her photographer father; her job teaching at age 14 after his death; how she left Dundee, Scotland, in order to marry and move to Cambridge, Massachusetts), leading up to her husband’s disappearance and her path to astronomy. Alone and expecting a child, she secured a job as a maid in the home of the director of the Harvard College Observatory, where she asked questions, absorbed information, and was eventually hired to study and calculate the colors produced by stars and recorded by the observatory. Her discoveries and her love of astronomy rise to the surface and will inspire an interest in young readers and listeners while the struggles and inequities she faced—raising a child alone, subsisting on low wages, not being allowed to use a telescope out of spurious concern for her health—show the difficulties she dealt with as a woman of the time and how she paved the way for others. Swaney’s delicate cartoons depict Fleming in Edwardian garb, a White woman amid an almost all-White cast. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 57.4% of actual size.)

Both an intriguing introduction to astronomy and an involving tale of a strong woman who overcame adversity. (timeline, glossary, biographical note, author’s note, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-284930-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans.

EVERYTHING AWESOME ABOUT SHARKS AND OTHER UNDERWATER CREATURES!

From the Everything Awesome About… series

In the wake of Everything Awesome About Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Beasts! (2019), Lowery spins out likewise frothy arrays of facts and observations about sharks, whales, giant squid, and smaller but no less extreme (or at least extremely interesting) sea life.

He provides plenty of value-added features, from overviews of oceanic zones and environments to jokes, drawing instructions, and portrait galleries suitable for copying or review. While not one to pass up any opportunity to, for instance, characterize ambergris as “whale vomit perfume” or the clownfish’s protective coating as “snot armor,” he also systematically introduces members of each of the eight orders of sharks, devotes most of a page to the shark’s electroreceptive ampullae of Lorenzini, and even sheds light on the unobvious differences between jellyfish and the Portuguese man-of-war or the reason why the blue octopus is said to have “arms” rather than “tentacles.” He also argues persuasively that sharks have gotten a bad rap (claiming that more people are killed each year by…vending machines) and closes with pleas to be concerned about plastic waste, to get involved in conservation efforts, and (cannily) to get out and explore our planet because (quoting Jacques-Yves Cousteau) “People protect what they love.” Human figures, some with brown skin, pop up occasionally to comment in the saturated color illustrations. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 45% of actual size.)

An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans. (bibliography, list of organizations) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35973-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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