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EXPERIENCING THE SOLAR SYSTEM

A lucid description of the solar system, grounded in concepts that young readers can grasp, and exquisitely illustrated. Alvin Jenkins was a professor of astronomy, and he takes a journey that begins with the creation of a star and continues through each planet, its moons, asteroids, and other features in our immediate space. There’s a narrative that describes what it would be like to land on each planet, its physical features and its characteristics. Captions and capsule paragraphs add to that information. Jenkins père conveys the immensity of the solar system in imaginative ways: for each planet, he notes how long it would take to drive there; to illustrate distances, he uses the image of the Sun as a basketball, the earth as a pea, and a mile-and-a-half of distance. The pictures are made of paper collage—the Sun of marbled paper, clouds as torn rice paper, and so on—which in the hands of Jenkins fils turns out to be an excellent way of making the images work. A white font and brilliantly colored collages set on a black background make this a dramatic presentation also. A terrific experience indeed. (bibliography) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-618-41603-X

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2004

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A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

WISHTREE

Generations of human and animal families grow and change, seen from the point of view of the red oak Wishing Tree that shelters them all.

Most trees are introverts at heart. So says Red, who is over 200 years old and should know. Not to mention that they have complicated relationships with humans. But this tree also has perspective on its animal friends and people who live within its purview—not just witnessing, but ultimately telling the tales of young people coming to this country alone or with family. An Irish woman named Maeve is the first, and a young 10-year-old Muslim girl named Samar is the most recent. Red becomes the repository for generations of wishes; this includes both observing Samar’s longing wish and sporting the hurtful word that another young person carves into their bark as a protest to Samar’s family’s presence. (Red is monoecious, they explain, with both male and female flowers.) Newbery medalist Applegate succeeds at interweaving an immigrant story with an animated natural world and having it all make sense. As Red observes, animals compete for resources just as humans do, and nature is not always pretty or fair or kind. This swiftly moving yet contemplative read is great for early middle grade, reluctant or tentative readers, or precocious younger students.

A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-04322-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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A fresh premise, good pacing, surprising twists and engaging characters all combine to make this a series worth following.

MASTERMINDS

From the Masterminds series , Vol. 1

With no unemployment, no homelessness and no crime, Serenity, New Mexico, is the perfect town. Or is it?

When 13-year-old Eli Frieden attempts to bike past the town limits for the first time, he is struck with paralyzing nausea and pain that makes him wonder if Serenity is less of a paradise and more of a prison. When Malik Bruder, his classmate, discovers that the major employer, a traffic-cone factory, is just a front for something more sinister, the two boys, along with friends Hector Amani and Tori Pritel, decide to investigate. They find that Serenity, which holds honesty and integrity above all else, is built on a lie. The truth is so shocking that it puts into question everything they know, even their identities. The mystery is unraveled through several alternating first-person narratives. The distinctive voices of a cynic, a true believer, a hopeful optimist, a terrified tag-along and others create depth, while break-ins, theft, vandalism and an explosive car chase keep the pages turning. A cliffhanger ending points to at least one sequel.

A fresh premise, good pacing, surprising twists and engaging characters all combine to make this a series worth following. (Adventure. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-229996-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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