To be used, with caution, by adult and child together.

EAT YOUR SCIENCE HOMEWORK

RECIPES FOR INQUIRING MINDS

Science concepts are appetizingly presented with relevant recipes.

The math-teaching author of Eat Your Math Homework, also illustrated by Hernandez (2011), follows up with six edible demonstrations of scientific ideas from chemistry, forensic science, geology and astrophysics. The connection is sometimes straightforward (Sedimentary Pizza Lasagna does retain the layers of sedimentary rock) but sometimes not. Three Atomic Popcorn Balls will make a model water molecule, but what do you do with the other balls? You’d need more colors than the suggested two to make many other kinds of molecules. The fingerprints pressed into the edges of Loop, Whorl, and Arch Cookies will disappear in the cooking process. The science explanations aren’t clear, either. A lengthy description of invisible ink mentions the chemical change involved, but it also covers the differences between acids and bases and both the chemical and the physical reactions demonstrated by Invisible Ink Snack Pockets. All this is relevant, perhaps, but confusing to children who have never encountered any of this before. An indentation in stretchy space is a theoretical explanation for the gravity of everything, not just black holes. The recipes have problems, too. The sausage should be precooked before being placed in the Black Hole Swallow-Up Muffins, and the recipe for sugar cookies calls for rolling out the dough without pre-chilling it, making it a recipe for a mess.

To be used, with caution, by adult and child together. (Nonfiction. 7-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-57091-298-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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

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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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