A worthy stab at untangling a perennial grammatical knot, but the audience needs to be willing to go with it.

READ REVIEW

THEY'RE THERE ON THEIR VACATION

An oddball family visits some interesting places on their vacation, teaching readers about “their,” “there,” and “they’re” along the way.

Almost all of the hit-or-miss rhyming verses in an abcb pattern contain all three homophones, printed in boldface to make them stand out from the rest of the text: “The kids? They’re in the car. / They ask their parents, ‘Are we there?’ / while on their way to see / the World’s Largest Underwear.” Other stops on the tour include the Narwhal Petting Zoo (across from a wildly popular water park that tempts the two children not at all), Indoor Acres Camping Ground—complete with air conditioning, microwaves, and televisions and minus the bugs and sunburn—and the Cheezie Popz factory. The bold colors in Paillot’s digital illustrations make the artwork pop, and over-the-top facial expressions match its exuberance. Readers may wonder about all the luggage for what seems to be only a two-day vacation. Dad is dark-skinned, Mom is a pink-skinned redhead, and the kids are a mix of the two; the few people that round out some scenes are likewise diversely toned. A color-coded final note gives further guidance about when to use each homophone. Kids really need to read this book independently in order to see the words used in context, but it may feel too young for those that need this skill most.

A worthy stab at untangling a perennial grammatical knot, but the audience needs to be willing to go with it. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7613-9033-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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This may spark a few imaginations, but its lack of directions and the difficulty level of most of the projects—not to...

WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH ONLY ONE SHOE?

REUSE, RECYCLE, REINVENT

Readers learn how to “Reuse, Recycle, Reinvent” what some might call trash into treasures.  

Rhyming poems each introduce a single way to reuse/reinvent something: A toilet becomes a planter, the titular shoe morphs into a birdhouse, a (very large, nonstandard) light bulb houses a fish, and favorite jeans that are holey? They become a new purse. The most creative has to be a table supported by a pitchfork: “If you’re wanting to picnic on uneven ground, / where your table’s unstable or up on a mound, / stop and think! Be creative! The answer’s around.” While cans, wood and wire are both easily found and transformed into musical instruments, not all these projects use such common materials or are as simple to complete: Half of a boat turns into a covered bench, a car becomes a bed, and a grocery cart transforms into a chair. And although it’s neat to see a farmer’s new watering trough (an enormous tire) and a community’s new playground (an old ambulance anchors it), these are not projects that are likely to fire readers up to do similar things. Cartoon spot illustrations share space with photographs of the new inventions, and both are needed to make sense of the poems.

This may spark a few imaginations, but its lack of directions and the difficulty level of most of the projects—not to mention its failure to impart reasons for reducing, reusing and recycling—make this one to skip. (Poetry. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55451-642-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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If this book were a pizza, young readers would gobble down every slice—and demand more for dessert.

IF

A MIND-BENDING NEW WAY OF LOOKING AT BIG IDEAS AND NUMBERS

Continuing his exploration of the mind-expanding possibilities of scale modeling, Smith extends the premise of If America Were a Village (2009) to encompass life, time and the universe.

Following a well-taken note that his comparisons are mostly approximations, the author proposes thinking of Earth’s life span as a month, all wealth as 100 coins and 14 similar transformations designed to make incomprehensibly huge numbers or measurements at least theoretically graspable. The trick doesn’t always work (“If the Milky Way galaxy were shrunk to the size of a dinner plate...,” the visible universe “would be about the size of Belgium”), but it does offer readers a chance to think of time, for instance, in terms of days or minutes instead of millions of years. Better yet, Adams’ painted infographics offer literal visualizations of the planets as balls of different sizes, of where inventions from fire to smartphones would lie relative to one another along a ruler or tape measure, and how many “slices” of our life are consumed in sleeping—if our life were a pizza. In a closing note addressed to adults, the author suggests further scaling and numeracy-building exercises.

If this book were a pizza, young readers would gobble down every slice—and demand more for dessert. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-894786-34-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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