More stumble than stroll, with a storyline too perfunctory to add any nuance to the instructional content.

A WALK ON THE SHORELINE

On a seaside perambulation, an Inuit lad encounters starfish and seaweed, watches fish and clams being harvested, and looks forward to an annual family gathering at his grandparents’ camp.

Up from his adoptive home in Ottawa for a summer with his biological family in Nunavut (no further explanation is forthcoming), Nukappia sets out from town with his uncle, who provides explanatory lectures as they go. “Seaweed is not only delicious, it’s also used as medicine. It has lots of nutrients and minerals….” The prose doesn’t get any less artificial as the two proceed. Nukappia is “excited to see two of his cousins, whom he hadn’t seen since last summer,” and exclaims, “I didn’t know you could catch clams through a crack in the sea ice!” Still, Hainnu lays in a digestible sequence of locally specific natural and cultural sights before bringing her walkers to their destination (where Nukappia’s “many cousins were spread around the campsite, playing with rocks near the shore”). Then, as in companion outing A Walk on the Tundra (2011), she appends small photos of all the plants, animals, and Inuit artifacts encountered on the fictional nature walk and provides additional scientific notes and observations. These last are more attention-worthy than the infodumps in the story, and the photos are more informative than Leng’s generic, cartoon illustrations.

More stumble than stroll, with a storyline too perfunctory to add any nuance to the instructional content. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-77227024-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Inhabit Media

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

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A launch-pad fizzle.

THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF SPACE

Flaps and pull-tabs in assorted astro-scenes reveal several wonders of the universe as well as inside glimpses of observatories, rockets, a space suit, and the International Space Station.

Interactive features include a spinnable Milky Way, pop-up launches of Ariane and Soyuz rockets, a solar-system tour, visits to the surfaces of the moon and Mars, and cutaway views beneath long, thin flaps of an international array of launch vehicles. Despite these bells and whistles, this import is far from ready for liftoff. Not only has Antarctica somehow gone missing from the pop-up globe, but Baumann’s commentary (at least in Booker’s translation from the French original) shows more enthusiasm than strict attention to accuracy. Both Mercury and Venus are designated “hottest planet” (right answer: Venus); claims that there is no gravity in space and that black holes are a type of star are at best simplistic; and “we do not know what [other galaxies] actually look like” is nonsensical. Moreover, in a clumsy attempt to diversify the cast on a spread about astronaut training, Latyk gives an (evidently) Asian figure caricatured slit eyes and yellow skin.

A launch-pad fizzle. (Informational pop-up picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 979-1-02760-197-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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A floral fantasia for casual browsers as well as budding botanists.

THE BIG BOOK OF BLOOMS

Spirited illustrations brighten a large-format introduction to flowers and their pollinators.

Showing a less Eurocentric outlook than in his Big Book of Birds (2019), Zommer employs agile brushwork and a fondness for graceful lines and bright colors to bring to life bustling bouquets from a range of habitats, from rainforest to desert. Often switching from horizontal to vertical orientations, the topical spreads progress from overviews of major floral families and broad looks at plant anatomy and reproduction to close-ups of select flora—roses and tulips to Venus flytraps and stinking flowers. The book then closes with a shoutout to the conservators and other workers at Kew Gardens (this is a British import) and quick suggestions for young balcony or windowsill gardeners. In most of the low-angled scenes, fancifully drawn avian or insect pollinators with human eyes hover around all the large, luscious blooms, as do one- or two-sentence comments that generally add cogent observations or insights: “All parts of the deadly nightshade plant contain poison. It has been used to poison famous emperors, kings and warriors throughout history.” (Confusingly for the audience, the accurate but limited assertion that bees “often visit blue or purple flowers” appears to be contradicted by an adjacent view of several zeroing in on a yellow toadflax.) Human figures, or, in one scene, hands, are depicted in a variety of sizes, shapes, and skin colors.

A floral fantasia for casual browsers as well as budding botanists. (glossary, index) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-500-65199-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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