A solid start to a new science series.

THE WATER CYCLE

From the Let's Investigate with Nate series

Ms. Frizzle and her magical bus have some competition.

Ball, the host of PBS’ Design Squad and Design Squad Nation, launches a new book series with this title. Nate himself, as a white, lab-coat–clad “daredevil scientist,” leads his team of investigators—Asian Wendy; white, glasses-wearing Felix; Braden, who is black and sports a sweater vest and bow tie; and Rosa, who has long, straight brown hair and light brown skin. The kids gather at the Science Museum on Saturday mornings an hour before opening, when all the doors turn into portals to other worlds. In order to return to the museum, the kids must answer the investigation questions on their exit tickets. In this outing, they shrink to the size of molecules, form a cloud, rain, flow from the river to the ocean, evaporate, form a snowflake, precipitate, and then soak down into the ground into an underground river. Along the way, readers are introduced to solid science vocabulary and concepts, most of which are explained in excerpts from Braden’s journal. The pencil-and–digital paint illustrations will whet readers’ appetites for their own adventures, though the depictions of molecules are unlikely to help kids understand them. Overall, it’s visually less cluttered than the Magic School Bus books; the characters still speak in dialogue bubbles, but there aren’t quite as many, and the flow of the conversation is easier to follow.

A solid start to a new science series. (Informational picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-235740-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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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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