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ASHA AND BAZ MEET MARY SHERMAN MORGAN

From the Asha and Baz series , Vol. 1

Spunky protagonists get a realistic look at a historical female scientist in an accessible series opener.

Time-traveling lab partners Asha and Baz get a firsthand lesson from famed rocket scientist Mary Sherman Morgan.

Clever lab partners and best friends Asha and Baz are determined to win the science class rocket contest in order to meet beloved astronaut Chris Hadfield. While brainstorming how to propel their rocket, Asha accidentally transports them back to North American Aviation in 1957. Inside, they encounter lone female scientist Mary Sherman Morgan, who is working on another propulsion problem—launching a satellite into space to compete with the Soviet Union in the space race. Asha and Baz witness Mary’s invention of the liquid rocket fuel known as Hydyne. While they’re discouraged by the sexism Mary encounters, she perseveres and pushes them to keep working on their own project. Despite an abrupt time shift and a lack of background information about the main characters, the story is engaging and the vocabulary is appropriate for both the age group and the subject matter. Illustrations are emotive, lively, and well placed, and robust backmatter adds much value to this promising new series. Though the protagonists’ race and ethnicity aren’t specified in the text, illustrations depict Asha as brown-skinned and Mary and Baz as light-skinned.

Spunky protagonists get a realistic look at a historical female scientist in an accessible series opener. (timeline of the U.S.–Soviet Union space race; information on Mary Sherman Morgan, Chris Hadfield, and the Soviet Union; resources on space) (Science fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-988761-67-1

Page Count: 106

Publisher: Common Deer Press

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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MAGIC CANDIES

An enigmatic, quirky representation of an active imagination in search of understanding and companionship.

A child finds connection to the world all around in this Korean import.

The illustrations in this unusual picture book achieve a 3-D effect reminiscent of claymation. The opening scene shows an aerial view of a playground scattered with maple and gingko leaves; a tethered dog watches a child aiming at marbles. Accustomed to spending time alone and solitary play, Tong Tong’s fertile imagination infuses a bag of assorted spherical hard candies with powers that give voice to unlikely speakers, such as the living room sofa and Marbles the old dog, each speaking with Tong Tong to share a sentient perspective. The hard candies also channel the tough love hidden within Tong Tong’s father and Grandma’s bubbly, reassuring voice emanating from another realm. The candies’ magic reveals yet another dimension when Tong Tong is drawn outdoors to witness nature’s beauty as copious falling leaves bid farewell to the season. Through these uncanny exchanges, Tong Tong not only makes surprising discoveries, but also delves into complex emotions, celebrates a continuing relationship with Grandma, and takes courageous steps toward a tantalizing conclusion. The enhanced artwork establishes depth and perspective, featuring details some may find initially unsettling—along with the cryptic, open-ended narrative. That said, depictions of facial expressions are skillful and endearing, and the interplay between text and illustrations will cause readers to linger and ponder.

An enigmatic, quirky representation of an active imagination in search of understanding and companionship. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2959-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Amazon Crossing Kids

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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DANGER! TIGER CROSSING

From the Fantastic Frame series , Vol. 1

Eeney meeney miney moe, catch this series before it goes! (Adventure. 7-9)

Two kids get up close and personal with some great works of art in this first in a new series.

Tiger Brooks is used to his little sister’s fantastical stories. So when the top-hatted orange pig she describes turns out to be not only real, but a next-door neighbor, Tiger enlists the help of his kooky new friend, Luna, to investigate. It turns out the pig works for the reclusive painter Viola Dots. Years ago a magical picture frame swallowed up her only son, and she’s searched for him in artworks ever since. When Tiger’s tinkering starts the magic up again, he and Luna are sucked into a reproduction of Henri Rousseau’s Surprised! or Tiger in a Tropical Storm, hungry predator and all. After meeting and failing to rescue Viola’s son in this adventure, the series is set up for the intrepid pair to infiltrate other classic paintings in the future. Backmatter provides information on the real Rousseau and his life. Oliver keeps the plot itself snappy and peppy. While there are few surprises, there’s also an impressive lack of lag time. This is helped in no small part by Kallis’ art, which goes from pen-and-ink drawings to full-blown color images once the kids cross over into the painting. Tiger is a white boy, and Luna is a dark-haired Latina.

Eeney meeney miney moe, catch this series before it goes! (Adventure. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-448-48087-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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