Careless, bland, superficial work unlikely to light or nourish interest in the topic.


From the Glow in the Dark series

Select galleries of nocturnal and crepuscular creatures in 11 settings, with a 12th on a detachable, glow-in-the-dark foldout poster.

The whole production has a slapdash air, as the dusk-to-dawn scenes shift arbitrarily from a generic cityscape with five animal foragers (plus the sole human figure here, a dark-skinned child staring at an outsized raccoon opening a garbage can) to an unnamed tropical rainforest, then an Australian beach, the “Outback,” a woodland vaguely located in North America, and on…finishing with a small poster labeled “Deep Sea” and teeming with unidentified creatures. Elsewhere the animals (and a few plants, which may confuse readers who take the title literally) are named—some in the narrative, some with a bare label in the illustration, some with a label and descriptive comment: “Badgers,” as Flint ungrammatically observes, “have an excellent sense of smell, sight, and hearing.” Though the author makes frequent mention of predators and prey, there is no chasing or eating to be seen in Li’s static, neatly painted scenes. Recent and more illuminating ventures into night life include Anne Jankélowitch and Delphine Chedru’s Animals at Night (2017), which also has glow-in-the-dark art, and Linda Stanek and Shennen Bersani’s Night Creepers (2017).

Careless, bland, superficial work unlikely to light or nourish interest in the topic. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-540-0

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Just the ticket for an armchair outing to the red planet.


From the Our Universe series , Vol. 5

Good news! Planet Marvelous is looking forward to visitors from Planet Awesome.

With the same exuberance that propelled readers deep into her Ocean! Waves for All (2020), illustrated by David Litchfield, and its three predecessors in the Our Universe series, McAnulty looks to the next planet out for a fresh set of enticing natural wonders. Billing itself a “party planet” (“I want to be the FIRST planet with human guests”), the russet raconteur trumpets its unique attractions. These range from moons Deimos and Phobos (“I know Earth is totally jealous”) to Olympus Mons and Valles Marineris, which is “four times as deep as the Grand Canyon! And not nearly as crowded.” Sure, unlike Spirit, Opportunity, and other rovers, human visitors will have to pack their own water and oxygen in addition to traveling millions of miles…but given a few technological advances, soon enough it’ll be time to “get this party started!” Prospective tourists diverse of age and race are dancing already on Earth in a final scene in anticipation of a trip to our “reMARkable” neighbor. Quiz questions and a timeline cap an enticement that echoes Susanna Leonard Hill’s Mars’ First Friends: Come on Over, Rovers! (2020), illustrated by Elisa Paganelli, in its fizzy mix of fact and fancy. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 75% of actual size.)

Just the ticket for an armchair outing to the red planet. (sources) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-25688-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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An unpalatable mess left half-baked by an ill-conceived gimmick.


Modeling a classic nursery song, a black hole does what a black hole does.

Ferrie reverses the song’s customary little-to-large order and shows frequent disregard for such niceties as actual rhymes and regular metrics. Also playing fast and loose with internal logic, she tracks a black hole as it cumulatively chows down, Pac-Man–style, on the entire universe, then galaxies (“It left quite a cavity after swallowing that galaxy”), stars, planets, cells, molecules, atoms, neutrons, and finally the ultimate: “There was a black hole that swallowed a quark. / That’s all there was. / And now it’s dark.” Then, in a twist that limits the audience for this feature to aging hippies and collectors of psychedelic posters, the author enjoins viewers to turn a black light (not supplied) onto the pages and flip back through for “an entirely different story.” What that might be, or even whether a filtered light source would work as well as a UV bulb, is left to anybody’s guess. The black hole and most of its victims sport roly-poly bodies and comically dismayed expressions in Batori’s cartoon illustrations—the universe in its entirety goes undepicted, unsurprisingly, and the quark never does appear, in the visible spectrum at least. This anthropomorphization adds a slapstick element that does nothing to pull the physics and the premise together.

An unpalatable mess left half-baked by an ill-conceived gimmick. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8077-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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