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From Here to There: The Story of How We Transport Ourselves and Everything Else

H.P. Newquist. Viking, $18.99 (128p) ISBN 978-0-451-47645-6

In this second book in the Invention & Impact series, published in partnership with the Smithsonian, Newquist demonstrates how mobility has been vital to the growth of civilization. Beginning some 40,000 years ago with the earliest footwear, he goes on to explore the evolution of transportation methods, up through air and space travel, providing insight into how technology builds slowly and owes much to trial and error. Chapters detail significant technological milestones and figures, as well as those involved in missteps (in 1896, Sylvester H. Roper died riding the steam-propelled bicycle he invented). An engrossing, in-depth study of how far humanity has come—and how it got there. Ages 10–up. Agent: Alec Shane, Writers House. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/15/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Follow the Link: A Journey Through Transportation; From Hot Lava to a Spy Rocket

Tom Jackson, illus. by Nick Shepherd. QEB, $14.95 (80p) ISBN 978-1-60992-956-5

Jackson traces the discoveries and innovations that led to new forms of transportation. A bright red line snakes its way from spread to spread, pulling readers forward in time while charting technological developments. The spread of steelmaking around 600 B.C.E. led to a rough understanding of magnetism through naturally magnetic lodestones, which eventually were put to use as navigational compasses—1,000 or so years later; offshoots from the main timeline highlight supplemental innovations and topics, such as a jet-powered sled or the first car crash. Shepherd’s bold cartoon illustrations and Jackson’s short, digestible descriptions add up to a fascinating look at the interconnections of human knowledge. Ages 7–10. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/15/2017 | Details & Permalink

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The Way Downtown: Adventures in Public Transit

Inna Gertsberg, illus. by Mike Lowery. Kids Can, $17.99 (44p) ISBN 978-1-77138-552-7

In this upbeat outing about public transportation in the fictional city of Zoom, readers follow multiple characters (a first grader named Robbie, a family of street performers, and others) as they make their respective ways downtown. Lowery’s energetic panel sequences are well suited to the motion and activity of each journey (Agent Rybka, a spy, takes a “very confusing and indirect route, in case he’s being followed”). Transit maps, signage, and details about purchasing tickets and getting onboard subways, trains, and ferries help demystify the complexities of public transit while providing a solid sense of what makes a city like Zoom zoom. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agency: Lilla Rogers Studio. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/15/2017 | Details & Permalink

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The Animal Book

Ruth Martin, illus. by Dawn Cooper. Lonely Planet, $19.99 (164p) ISBN 978-1-78657-434-3

This informative guide features more than 100 species that inhabit the planet’s continents and oceans. Each creature gets a full page or spread; brief introductions are followed by small text blocks that address animal behavior, anatomy, ecosystems, and assorted notable facts (for example, pigeons can be trained to “spot cancer cells”). A pastel color scheme lets Cooper’s illustrations coexist, rather than compete, with photographs of animals and their habitats that appear throughout. It’s a thorough, detail-rich, continent-by-continent overview of Earth’s extraordinary biodiversity. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/15/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Animalsaurus: Incredible Creatures from Prehistoric and Modern Times

Tracey Turner, illus. by Harriet Russell. Bloomsbury, $14.99 (96p) ISBN 978-1-68119-544-5

More than 30 prehistoric animals are the focus of this irreverent outing, which compares them to living descendants. Working in scribbly ink, Russell renders such prehistoric animals as the giant pacarana (a cow-size rodent similar to the capybara) and woolly mammoth in caricatured cartoons, placed alongside photographs of their modern counterparts. Turner doesn’t sugarcoat some of the prehistoric beasts’ appearances: “It looked like a cross between an especially unattractive lizard and a pig,” she says of the Lystrosaurus, whose burrowing habits are similar to those of the spiny-tailed lizard. If readers ever doubted that monsters are real, they need only look to the fossil record—or the backyard. Ages 8–12. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/15/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Secrets of the Sea

Kate Baker, illus. by Eleanor Taylor. Big Picture, $24.99 (96p) ISBN 978-0-7636-9839-3

Baker and Taylor take readers from the ocean’s shallows to its deepest depths as they highlight singular or little-known aquatic creatures. Over five chapters, Baker introduces each species with vibrant details (“The calcified bumps on the sea horse’s skin match the color and shape of the sea fan’s polyps—the perfect camouflage”), accompanied by trivia and biological information. Taylor’s gauzy and dramatic illustrations depict the creatures as if looking at them through a microscope or magnifying glass. A queen parrot fish’s jewel-toned scales become a kind of abstract painting; the ornate skeletons of radiolarians “have inspired scientists, architects, painters, and sculptors.” A dazzlingly illustrated look at creatures unusual and often unseen. Ages 8–12. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/15/2017 | Details & Permalink

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The Amazing Animal Atlas

Nick Crumpton, illus. by Gaia Bordicchia. Flying Eye (Consortium, dist.), $28.95 (52p) ISBN 978-1-909263-11-6

This handsome oversize atlas features an expansive grouping of animals and the distinctive ecosystems they inhabit. Bordicchia’s strikingly detailed animals are accompanied by captions and boxes from zoologist Crumpton that supply engaging details about their behavior and anatomy (“The Siberian flying squirrel flies by stretching out the flaps of skin between its front and back legs”). Double-sided foldouts for North America and Asia give readers a closer look at regions within those continents, and closing sections touch on animal endangerment and conservation. The atlas layout allows for a deeper understanding of the planet’s biodiversity while highlighting dozens of intriguing animals. Ages 6–up. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/15/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Book of Bones: 10 Record-Breaking Animals

Gabrielle Balkan, illus. by Sam Brewster. Phaidon, $19.95 (48p) ISBN 978-0-7148-7512-5

Readers can guess the identities of 10 animals by studying their skeletons, each of which has a superlative quality (the “biggest” belongs to the blue whale, and a reticulated python has the “most”). The animals’ skeletons appear in bright white set against glossy black backgrounds, accompanied by clues: “Who has a skeleton but no bones? Answer: Me,” hints a hammerhead shark. Intervening spreads show the living animals in their habitats, and flocking offers a tactile way for children to better understand how the creatures’ skeletons relate to their bodies. A stylish introduction to how specialized and different bones can be. Ages 4–9. Author’s agent: Kevin O’Conner, Charlotte Sheedy Literary. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/15/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Song of the Wild: A First Book of Animals

Nicola Davies, illus. by Petr Horacek. Candlewick, $19.99 (108p) ISBN 978-0-7636-9160-8

Davies and Horacek offer a striking poetic and visual tribute to the animal world. Grouped into thematic chapters that include “Big and Small,” “Colors and Shapes,” and “Animal Homes,” Davies’s pithy, playful poems skillfully impart details about the various creatures (“From a swollen, pregnant pouch,/ small fishy sea foals squiggle out./ They’ve grown from eggs inside the tummy/ of their daddy, not their mommy”). Horacek’s sweeping, layered collages vary in form, composition, and medium: shards of painted paper (“a fresh green ribbon/ torn from a blade of elephant grass”) help form a weaverbird’s nest, while elsewhere a tiger’s stripes fade into jungle. Ages 3–7. Author’s agent: Veronique Baxter, David Higham Associates. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/15/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Twelve Days in May: Freedom Ride 1961

Larry Dame Brimner. Calkins Creek, $17.95 (112p) ISBN 978-1-62979-586-7

Using a straightforward, present-tense narrative and a diary-style format, Brimner (The Rain Wizard) recounts the first freedom ride of the civil rights movement. After opening with a recap of several landmark court cases that affected civil rights for African-Americans, the third-person retrospective begins a day-by-day account of the bus journey in May 1961: “They are men and women, young and old, black and white. They are people with a plan.... They are prepared for the unexpected.” The 13 riders, all promising nonviolence, left Washington, D.C., aboard two buses bound for Louisiana in an effort to integrate interstate travel facilities. The further south they traveled, the more violent local reaction became. Black typeface on white pages alternates with white typeface against black backdrops to stark effect, and words taken from quotations, segregation signs, or slogans from the ride occasionally pop out from the pages. Archival photos depict the ride and violent confrontations, including the firebombing of one bus. This well-researched and accessible account of a precedent-setting protest ends with an epilogue, updates on the 13 riders, a bibliography, source notes, and index. Ages 10–up. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 09/15/2017 | Details & Permalink

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