September 1, 2016 Booklist 99 www.booklistonline.com
code, semaphore, and phonetic alphabet—
along with a handful of information about
boats and sea travel. In each appealingly
blocky, primary-colored illustration, Gillingham features a distinctive boat flying a
particular signal flag, a crystal clear description of what that flag indicates, and on the
facing page, the semaphore, Morse, and
phonetic codes (including variations) for
that letter, as well as some facts about the featured vessel. Gillingham offers explanations
for the importance
of each flag—for
instance, the Sierra
flag, which signals
propulsion,” is important because
“it’s difficult to
see when a boat is operating astern propulsion, since it doesn’t make a wave or tracks
in the water”—and nods to ways contemporary nautical practices have outmoded some
signal flags, like Tango, indicating “I am engaged in pair trawling,” which is rarely used
since that fishing method now “makes some
people very angry because of the amount of
ocean life that it destroys or catches by mistake.” Perhaps the best part is this: nestled
between each letter’s two-page spread is a
textured paper version of the flag itself. The
information is engaging enough on its own,
but Gillingham’s snazzy artwork and smart
layout propel it to captivating heights. Kids
who love secret codes or all things nautical
will be elated. —Sarah Hunter
Something Very Sad Happened: A
Toddler’s Guide to Understanding
By Bonnie Zucker. Illus. by Kim
2016. 32p. Magination, $14.95 (9781433822667). 155.9.
Death is a difficult concept to grasp at
any age: there’s unimaginable sadness and a
notion of finality that may seem too complex to comprehend. In this touching story
geared toward parents and caregivers with
two- to three-year-old children experiencing the loss of a loved one, the author not
only simplifies the concept of death in a way
for toddlers to understand (“When someone dies / you cannot see them anymore”)
but additionally provides grieving strategies
through calming illustrations and supplemental tools for parents and caregivers. The
opening of the book includes a personal
condolence and explanatory author’s note
highlighting the inspiration for writing the
story, followed by a curated, step-by-step
guide for using the book as a tool to address
death. Similarly, the book closes with an
extensive “Note to Parents and Caregivers,”
which completes this essential, powerful,
and psychologically researched resource
to equip adults to model healthy grieving and help children at this age with loss.
realistic. The poem “iPod” is an excellent
example of the powerful manner in which
the words, both in English and Spanish,
and illustrations work together. iPod is the
name of a young boy who leaves everything
behind, including his precious MP3 player,
to travel north. Argueta and Ruano present
a unique and much-needed perspective on
the reasons driving young people to immigrate to the U.S., in particular the desire to
reunite with family. The scarcity of Latino
children’s and young-adult books that center
on Central American experiences makes this
poignant poetry collection extremely vital.
Similar books include René Colato Laínez’s
Waiting for Papá / Esperando a Papá (2004).
—Sonia Alejandra Rodríguez
Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim
Key Taught the World about
By Donna Janell Bowman. Illus. by
Sept. 2016. 48p. Lee & Low, $19.95 (9781620141489).
179. Gr. 3–5.
William “Doc” Key’s was a life of contradictions and accomplishments. He was born
a slave in 1833 but was
educated by his master;
he served the Confederates during the Civil
War, and the Union after he was free; he was
a self-trained veterinarian whose liniments
and cures were nationally known. But most of all, Doc is
remembered for the way he nourished a sickly
colt named Jim to life and then taught him
to spell and recognize words, do math, and
perform numerous other feats. His strategy:
positive reinforcement through kindness and
rewards, which, at the time, was unknown in
the treatment of animals. As the pair traveled,
Doc often faced discrimination, particularly
in the South, but he quietly championed racial equality by refusing segregated seating at
his shows and by performing in many of the
country’s traditionally white venues. Stunning
hand-painted linoleum block print illustrations by Coretta Scott King Award winner
Minter are awash with color and light, as
from a stained glass window, and capture the
nuances of Doc and Jim’s life together perfectly. The narrative’s quiet tone conveys a
sense of respect for Doc’s life and legacy, while
back matter offers an extended biography,
archival photos of Doc and Jim, and source
notes. This beautiful picture-book homage to
Doc and Jim is nothing short of enthralling.
To Burp or Not to Burp: A Guide to Your
Body in Space.
By Dave Williams and Loredana Cunti.
Illus. by Theo Krynauw.
Oct. 2016. 56p. Annick, $22.95 (9781554518548); paper,
$14.95 (9781554518531). 612. Gr. 3–6.
Space is replete with scientific mysteries,
and a new and exciting field of study involves long-term effects of life in space on
the human body. Co-author Williams is an
accomplished physician who has been part
of several biological research space missions.
Nose-picking, toilet habits, and motion sickness are some of the ickier topics that are
mentioned, but the clinical and scientific
effect of space travel on many of the body’s
organs and systems are included. Challenges
such as keeping clean and getting rest are
daily struggles that impact astronaut health.
Several of the photographs included were
taken by Williams himself during his time
in space, and his personal perspective lends
a relatability to the physical discomforts and
health consequences of space exploration. A
list of books and websites for further reading
are included in the end matter. The implications for future space colonies are exciting,
and learning about the challenges to the human body present interesting opportunities
for STEM-related problem-solving opportunities. —Erin Anderson
ABC: The Alphabet from the Sky.
By Benedikt Gross and Joey Lee. Illus.
by the authors.
Sept. 2016. 64p. Price Stern Sloan, $18.99
(9781101995815). 372. PreS–K.
“Let your imagination take you across
America on a journey to discover the alphabet like you’ve never seen before.” The
creative project of the Kickstarter campaign
“Aerial Bold,” this title offers young and old
readers a unique opportunity to hunt for letters of the alphabet throughout America’s
conterminous landscape. Using satellite
imagery and computer technology, hidden
letters can be found “in the shape of buildings, roads, trees, or even lakes.” Simple
prompts spark inquisitive readers to look for
clues (“Can you spot the A?”; “Where’s the
M?”; “There’s a W hiding somewhere”). Pages and pages of intricate full-page scenes let
reader’s imaginations go wild as they search
for additional clues reminiscent of other
things, such as shapes of animals or funny
faces. Gross and Lee provide inset maps with
locations and topographical coordinates
for map enthusiasts. Answers to question
prompts are included, as well as additional
letter clues for further searching. A delightful
anytime book with hours of entertainment.
Don’t be surprised if adults want to get in on
the fun, too. —Anita Lock
Alpha, Bravo, Charlie: The
Complete Book of Nautical Codes.
By Sara Gillingham. Illus. by the
2016. 120p. Phaidon, $19.95 (9780714871431). 384.
This brilliantly designed abecedary introduces kiddos to four different systems of
nautical communication—signal flag, Morse