Friday, April 3, 2015

Older Than The Stars


Older Thank The Stars

by Karen C. Fox, illustrated by Nancy Davis


"You are older than the dinosaurs.
Older than the earth.
Older than the sun and all the planets.
You are older than the stars.
You are as old as the universe itself."

Thus begins Karen C. Fox's outstanding kid's cosmology book, Older Than the Stars, launching a narrative journey that starts at the singularity just before the big bang (without using the word 'singularity'), going through stellar formation, fusion, and supernovae, before arriving at the development and differentiation of life on Earth, culminating in you, the sentient bit of recycled atoms that is reading the book. The book is divided into two separate narratives - the first in verse ("This is the blast intense enough, to hurl the atoms so strong and tough, that formed in the star of red-hot stuff, that burst from the gas in a giant puff..."), with simple interpretive sidebars in prose ("Each star shone brightly for billions of years. But stars don't live forever. Whenever a star died, it exploded in a giant fireball called a supernova..."), that
provide the details of how our galaxy, solar system, and planet came into being, without going over a curious kid's head.

All of this well thought out (and fun to read) text is highlighted by gorgeous, vibrant, full-page illustrations by Nancy Davis. Between the big ideas, flowing text, and engrossing images, Older Than the Stars is sure to be a crowd-pleaser for kids of all ages.

Older Thank The Starsby Karen C. Fox, illustrated by Nancy Davis

Friday, March 13, 2015

Lauren Ipsum

Lauren Ipsum

by Carlos Bueno, illustrated by Miran Lipovača


One day, Lauren Ipsum - Laurie to her friend - got lost in the forest by her house. As she tried to find her way home, she instead found herself in a strange new place populated by Jargons, Elegants, Mailer Daemons, and talking Turtles (Green Round animals with a Shell) called Userland. Before long, she'd met the Wandering Salesman (who must visit all the towns in Userland without repeating his path), discussed infinity with Achilles and a Turtle (exploring Xeno's famous paradox), befriended a talking logic gate lizard called Xor, played the Game of Life, and helped build a binary semaphore network, expanding her own abilities along the way and discovering the difference between a solution that makes sense and a sensible solution.

Carlos Bueno's allegorical tale Lauren Ipsum is reminiscent of The Phantom Tollbooth, but with a focus on logic and computer science instead of words and grammar. Without getting bogged down in minutia, Bueno guides the engaged reader through major concepts of computer science including algorithms, recursion, binary search, abstractions, and many more. Bueno has a light touch and uses the Socratic method to good effect, asking leading questions and guiding the reader to the solution, without being (obviously) didactic. He builds on prior concepts and subtly teaches logic, without once actually mentioning computers.

Beautifully illustrated by Miran Lipovača, Lauren Ipsum is a great way to encourage a young person (or even an old person) to think about how computers work. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Lauren Ipsum
by Carlos Bueno, illustrated by Miran Lipovača

Sunday, January 4, 2015

What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night

What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night
by Refe and Susan Tuma

Strange things are happening all over the world. By night, plastic dinosaurs are creeping out of their toy boxes, shaking off their polite demeanors, and getting up to mischief.

No one knows how long this has been going on, but in 2012 Refe and Susan Tuma first noticed and started documenting online the shenanigans that their herd of plastic dinos were getting up to. By the autumn of 2013, reports were coming in from all over the world. Dinovember had arrived and cheeky plastic dinos were taking the world by storm.

By the 2014 launch of Refe and Susan Tuma's What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night, children all over the world were waking up each day in November to see what mischief had been wrought during the night. Facebook feeds and Pinterest boards were deluged with dinotastic destruction. One couldn't go on social media without seeing a T. rex stealing Halloween candy, a diplodicus devastating a birthday cake, or a triceratops tangled up in toilet paper, all aggregated under the tag #Dinovember.

What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night is an excellent way to bring a bit of wonder, mystery, and joy to your child during the late autumn. This book will give you lots of inspiration for what your herd of naughty raptors can get up to next November.

What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night
by Refe and Susan Tuma



Saturday, August 16, 2014

Summer hiatus

As you, dear reader, may have noticed, I have not recently posted to this blog. Have no fear!

The Bibliofamily has recently moved from Central New York to North Central Florida. While still living in boxes (and having just received our new Internet connection), your humble reviewer is unable to create any new posts. I anticipate that this will be remedied around the end of next week. 

Until then, happy reading!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Moonshot: The Flight Of Apollo 11

Moonshot: The Flight Of Apollo 11
by Brian Floca

Forty five years ago today, Columbia orbited the moon, while after a precarious descent the Eagle landed on the lunar surface. With the words "Houston. Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." we truly became a spacefaring civilization.

The world eagerly watched as mission commander Neil Armstrong and LEM pilot Buzz Aldrin took those first tentative steps onto humanity's first other world.

Meanwhile aboard the command module Columbia, CM pilot Michael Collins was the loneliest man who had ever been. He framed the whole of humanity within the lens of his camera and flew alone, above the moon.

Brian Floca's Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 is a gorgeous, moving, and eloquent homage to those brave men who, ignoring their own comfort and safety, joined the ranks of our greatest explorers - Columbus, Magellan, and Gagarin - and broadened the horizons of our species. Once again, Brian Floca has delivered a masterpiece of technical detail and accuracy. His elaborate and beautifully rendered watercolors capture both the details of the equipment and the real emotions of the astronauts (during the countdown sequence, we see Michael Collins look anxiously to his side). Floca's elegant prose captures
the excitement of the Apollo XI mission. This book  kept me on the edge of my seat and gave me goosebumps.

I can think of no better way to share my awe for the majesty of human space flight with my son than by reading him Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11.

Moonshot: The Flight Of Apollo 11
by Brian Floca

Friday, July 18, 2014

I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean

I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean

by Kevin Sherry


The giant squid is big. Very big.

She's very proud of how big she is. She even thinks that she's the biggest thing in the ocean - bigger than shrimp, clams, and crabs. Even bigger than jellyfish, turtles, and octopodes.

But she's forgotten that everything has to eat and that even giant squid have predators. Along comes a sperm whale and gobbles her up. Now worries though, optimist that she is, the squid realizes that she's the biggest thing in the whale!

Kevin Sherry's delightfully playful I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean is a delightful read. The pictures are cute and they're even anatomically correct (no eyes on these clams). Packed with humor, this is a fantastic board book for your toddler (or your favorite marine biologist) to explore beautiful art and relative sizes.

I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean
by Kevin Sherry

Thursday, July 3, 2014

You Are Stardust

You Are Stardust
by Elin Kelsey, illustrated by Soyeon Kim


Every atom in your body heavier than hydrogen was forged in the heart of a dying star. When you cast your eyes upwards to the sky, you see the refineries of the building blocks of life. We humans, we earthlings, are a part of nature and a continuous part of the vast universe that we inhabit. We are the way that that incomprehensibly large universe reflects upon itself.

I first encountered the poetic beauty of these ideas when I read Carl Sagan in college. As a parent, I've tried to explain these big ideas to my son. I'm pleased that Elin Kelsey and Soyeon Kim have given me a tool to help explain these concepts to my son in their magnificent You Are Stardust.

Elin Kelsey's elegant yet simple prose ("The water swirling in your glass once filled the puddles where dinosaurs drank.") is well matched with Soyeon Kim's beautiful and elaborately constructed collages. You Are Stardust is aesthetically and intellectually rewarding - it is a joy to read and is sure to inspire deep questions from the little one in your life.

You Are Stardust
by Elin Kelsey, illustrated by Soyeon Kim