STELLA BRITE AND THE DARK MATTER MYSTERY

In this very thinly disguised science lesson, a pair of freckle-faced, entirely wholesome-looking young detectives take on two cases at once: finding the Mayor’s missing Pekingese, and joining the hunt for the elusive “dark matter” that scientists posit to explain the universe’s large-scale gravitational behavior. Focusing mainly on the latter, Stella and her little brother Max start at a (books-only) library, then peer through a telescope, snoop around researcher Bella Black’s lab and finally join her in an underground detection facility. In the course of all this, they (and readers) learn about MACHOs (MAssive Compact Halo Objects), WIMPs (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles) and how these enigmatic phenomena were discovered. The dog shows up at the end (sharp-eyed observers will have already spotted it, as it’s been following them around since nearly the beginning), so one case, at least, winds up closed. For readers inclined to carry on with the more cosmic one, Latta ends her story/lecture with a recap and a pair of well-chosen websites. Despite the superfluous plotline, this wins high marks for its clear, specific introduction to one of modern astronomy’s great puzzles. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-57091-883-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2005

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DORY STORY

Who is next in the ocean food chain? Pallotta has a surprising answer in this picture book glimpse of one curious boy. Danny, fascinated by plankton, takes his dory and rows out into the ocean, where he sees shrimp eating those plankton, fish sand eels eating shrimp, mackerel eating fish sand eels, bluefish chasing mackerel, tuna after bluefish, and killer whales after tuna. When an enormous humpbacked whale arrives on the scene, Danny’s dory tips over and he has to swim for a large rock or become—he worries’someone’s lunch. Surreal acrylic illustrations in vivid blues and red extend the story of a small boy, a small boat, and a vast ocean, in which the laws of the food chain are paramount. That the boy has been bathtub-bound during this entire imaginative foray doesn’t diminish the suspense, and the facts Pallotta presents are solidly researched. A charming fish tale about the one—the boy—that got away. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-88106-075-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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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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