Gr 4-5-These basic introductions to our solar system's star and outer planets are also-rans next to Larry Dane Brimner's recent "True Book" updates (Children's), but they do have some additional facts, particularly about the planets' moons. In Saturn, Kerrod describes the atmosphere, structure, rings, and most of the plethora of moons with crisp fluency, pausing for a closer look at Titan, the largest satellite, and closing with a tally of the space probes, Pioneer 11 to Cassini, that have been dispatched to those distant reaches. Uranus is similarly arranged; Sun covers not only inner and outer solar phenomena, but also earthly seasons, eclipses, the life and death of stars in general, and related topics. The profuse illustrations, which include diagrams, paintings, and average-quality space photos, are the books' chief weakness. The photo of Saturn's moon Mimas accompanying a description of its outsized crater doesn't show the crater, for instance, and Sun not only has a page of meaningless visual filler, but opens with a hard-to-read block of text printed over a bright, grainy, red-and-yellow close-up of the photosphere. None of the books include Web sites or sources of further information. Deeper collections may have a place for these supplemental offerings, but they're not first purchases.-John Peters, New York Public Library Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
For the K-2 reader, Mia Posada's work, Dandelions: Stars in the Grass, puts the much-maligned dandelion in its proper prospective. The author's presentation is an overview, not an in-depth study, of the dandelion. The dandelion's life cycle is succinctly described in a rhyming verse accompanied by illustrations that could, by themselves, relate the life story of this remarkably ordinary plant. The story begins with the adult dandelion and its interactions with various biotic and abiotic factors. The older dandelion, passing into the reproductive tuft stage, is dispersed by the wind, carrying the seed tufts to new environments that allow the dandelion to germinate, sprout, and become a new flower. Pollination by various insects ensures the survival of the species.
Teachers of young children could discuss a number of topics presented in the book: the seasons, pollination, seed dispersal, adaptation, germination, and phototropism. The appendix offers a short synopsis of dandelion facts, an incredible dandelion recipe, and several easy-to-do dandelion investigations. Recommended, Grades PreK-Grade 2. REVIEWER: James Shaidnagle (Pattonville High School)