A quirky approach to math that should spur divergent thinking

ANTS RULE

THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT

Ants as a unit of measurement?

In Barner’s wonderful, Eric Carle–like collages, ants are 1 inch long (as represented with yellow-and-black rulers that run along the bottoms of some pages). The ants are compared to other insects (familiarly called “bugs”) in charts, graphs, and different presentations of data. Words and pictures are used to help young learners make size comparisons. As the ants create an amusement-park ride for the Blowout Bug Jamboree, they busily measure their friends: “Caterpillar is four ants long. Bee is two ants long. Ladybug is one ant long.” These size relationships are presented on a chart and then discussed in dialogue bubbles by the ants. For the youngest mathematicians, this repetition will reinforce the concept. Older kids in this age group or those readers who grasp new ideas quickly may get bored, but then new insects are introduced, and the illustrations in varied formats will keep viewers involved. A pie chart showing the number of insects that will attend the jamboree helps to answer the question: “How many of each kind of bug will come?” The answer is used by the industrious ants to construct their masterpiece, brilliantly rolled out in a gatefold at the end of the book: a Blowout Bug Jamboree Buggy-go-round! (Unfortunately, one ladybug seems to be missing.)

A quirky approach to math that should spur divergent thinking . (Informational picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3660-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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Well-meant but distressing.

THE POUT-POUT FISH CLEANS UP THE OCEAN

From the Pout-Pout Fish series

The pout-pout fish finds more to pout about.

In the eighth book in this popular series (not counting holiday miniadventures, board books, and novelty tie-ins), Mr. Fish and his friends discover “a big…BIG…MESS” in the ocean. In rhyming stanzas, with an occasional refrain, Diesen tells of the dismal discovery, research, discussion, and consensus: “The problem is… / Us!!!” The friends agree to work together to solve it, inviting readers’ help. Hanna illustrates with his familiar cartoonish characters, letting his imagination fly with examples of what surrounds these ocean-dwellers as they journey to the trash mountain: straws, cups, and plastic bags; bits of plastic toys; bottles and cans; candy wrappers and pizza boxes; old electronics; broken sandals; tires; an abandoned ukelele; an Earth Day balloon (oh, the irony); six-pack rings; and more. Mr. Seahorse’s vehicle belches smelly exhaust; a fish behind him wears a gas mask. Two final spreads show the cooperative cleanup. Mr. Seahorse now rides a bicycle. Humorous details will keep readers coming back to the pictures again and again, but it’s not all laughs: There is an entangled turtle, a fish strangling in a six-pack ring, and more than one skeleton. An older audience will certainly get the point; young listeners may need a reminder from the adult reader to understand who really consumes fast food and leaves litter behind—the real “us” that threaten actual marine life. A final page offers suggestions for learning more, taking action, and sharing.

Well-meant but distressing. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-374-30934-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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A quiet, warm look at the bond between grandfather and grandson.

MAX AND THE TAG-ALONG MOON

After a visit, an African-American grandfather and grandson say farewell under a big yellow moon. Granpa tells Max it is the same moon he will see when he gets home.

This gently told story uses Max’s fascination with the moon’s ability to “tag along” where his family’s car goes as a metaphor for his grandfather’s constant love. Separating the two relatives is “a swervy-curvy road” that travels up and down hills, over a bridge, “past a field of sleeping cows,” around a small town and through a tunnel. No matter where Max travels, the moon is always there, waiting around a curve or peeking through the trees. But then “[d]ark clouds tumbled across the night sky.” No stars, no nightingales and no moon are to be found. Max frets: “Granpa said it would always shine for me.” Disappointed, Max climbs into bed, missing both the moon and his granpa. In a dramatic double-page spread, readers see Max’s excitement as “[s]lowly, very slowly, Max’s bedroom began to fill with a soft yellow glow.” Cooper uses his signature style to illustrate both the landscape—sometimes viewed from the car windows or reflected in the vehicle’s mirror—and the expressive faces of his characters. Coupled with the story’s lyrical text, this is a lovely mood piece.

A quiet, warm look at the bond between grandfather and grandson. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-23342-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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