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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A quick flight but a blast from first to last.

EVERYTHING AWESOME ABOUT SPACE AND OTHER GALACTIC FACTS!

From the Everything Awesome About… series

A charged-up roundup of astro-facts.

Having previously explored everything awesome about both dinosaurs (2019) and sharks (2020), Lowery now heads out along a well-traveled route, taking readers from the Big Bang through a planet-by-planet tour of the solar system and then through a selection of space-exploration highlights. The survey isn’t unique, but Lowery does pour on the gosh-wow by filling each hand-lettered, poster-style spread with emphatic colors and graphics. He also goes for the awesome in his selection of facts—so that readers get nothing about Newton’s laws of motion, for instance, but will come away knowing that just 65 years separate the Wright brothers’ flight and the first moon landing. They’ll also learn that space is silent but smells like burned steak (according to astronaut Chris Hadfield), that thanks to microgravity no one snores on the International Space Station, and that Buzz Aldrin was the first man on the moon…to use the bathroom. And, along with a set of forgettable space jokes (OK, one: “Why did the carnivore eat the shooting star?” “Because it was meteor”), the backmatter features drawing instructions for budding space artists and a short but choice reading list. Nods to Katherine Johnson and NASA’s other African American “computers” as well as astronomer Vera Rubin give women a solid presence in the otherwise male and largely White cast of humans. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A quick flight but a blast from first to last. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-35974-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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