paper 0-7894-4762-2 A conversation between a teacher with a new CD-ROM and two of his students form the basis for this entry in the Eyewitness Readers series, which attempts to deliver a history-can-be-fun message. The mismatched blend of fiction and nonfiction begins with a negative premise—Sophie and Jake are asked by their teacher to test some new software when they fail to meet the requirements of their history homework. A bug-eyed cartoon creature, Whirligig, zooms them to various periods of time at the click of a button. Keywords prompt the computer, e.g., “sports” takes them to ancient Rome for a chariot race, “exploring” lands them among the Vikings, and “chocolate” finds them in wartime England during the second World War. The assortment of time periods are as random as an Internet search, with the Italian Renaissance giving way to a chapter on the California gold rush. Each time-travel episode contains an awkward blend of historical background and a story-within-a-story, using characters such as Isabella and Giovanni who meet an artist with drawings by Leonardo da Vinci. Despite a brief glossary, independent readers may stumble over stilted dialogue and difficult terms, names, and places, and aside from a lesson in how a computer retrieves information, the browser-like, faux-computer approach doesn’t translate well to the page. Those who want to point-and-click may prefer to stick to a screen. (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7894-4763-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1999

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This vibrant, thoughtful book from Katz (Over the Moon, 1997) continues her tribute to her adopted daughter, Lena, born in Guatemala. Lena is “seven. I am the color of cinnamon. Mom says she could eat me up”; she learns during a painting lesson that to get the color brown, she will have to “mix red, yellow, black, and white paints.” They go for a walk to observe the many shades of brown: they see Sonia, who is the color of creamy peanut butter; Isabella, who is chocolate brown; Lucy, both peachy and tan; Jo-Jin, the color of honey; Kyle, “like leaves in fall”; Mr. Pellegrino, the color of pizza crust, golden brown. Lena realizes that every shade is beautiful, then mixes her paints accordingly for portraits of her friends—“The colors of us!” Bold illustrations celebrate diversity with a child’s open-hearted sensibility and a mother’s love. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-5864-8

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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Florian’s seventh collection of verse is also his most uneven; though the flair for clever rhyme that consistently lights up his other books, beginning with Monster Motel (1993), occasionally shows itself—“Hello, my name is Dracula/My clothing is all blackula./I drive a Cadillacula./I am a maniacula”—too many of the entries are routine limericks, putdowns, character portraits, rhymed lists that fall flat on the ear, or quick quips: “It’s hard to be anonymous/When you’re a hippopotamus.” Florian’s language and simple, thick-lined cartoons illustrations are equally ingenuous, and he sticks to tried-and-true subjects, from dinosaurs to school lunch, but the well of inspiration seems dry; revisit his hilarious Bing Bang Boing (1994) instead. (index) (Poetry. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202084-5

Page Count: 158

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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