Familiar school concerns, nicely resolved, make this another excellent selection for early chapter-book readers. (Fiction....

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FRACTIONS = TROUBLE!

Third-grader Wilson Williams knows he'll never learn fractions: “Multiplication was hard enough,” he tells his pet hamster, Pip. 

Worse, his parents have arranged for a math tutor. Just the idea of a tutor is embarrassing, but sympathetic Mrs. Tucker uses his love for hamsters to help him understand the math, and soon he’s quite clear about the difference between the Nice Numerator and the Dumb Denominator. At the same time, Pip becomes the basis for a successful science-fair project. Not only does Wilson have some academic success, he makes his little brother happy. Though only in kindergarten, Kipper has a science-fair project too. In the process of Kipper’s investigations, one of his favorite stuffed animals disappears. Big brother Wilson comes to the rescue. Most satisfying of all, he discovers that others—even his very best friend—are tutored, too. The short chapters have believable dialogue and plenty of reader appeal. In one, Wilson tries to teach his hamster to shake hands; in another, his friend Josh experiments with blowing up a pickle. Karas' scratchy grayscale drawings, one to a chapter, support the story. This sequel to 7 x 9 = Trouble (2002) follows logically but also stands on its own.

Familiar school concerns, nicely resolved, make this another excellent selection for early chapter-book readers. (Fiction. 7-10) 

Pub Date: June 21, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-36716-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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Young environmentalists will appreciate seeing how facts can defy frenzy.

COUGAR FRENZY

From the Orca Echoes series

Through the investigations of young Cricket and her friends, readers learn how to distinguish evidence of a cougar from other animals—and are briefed on cougar conservation and monitoring.

When Cricket and her friend Shilo notice a foul smell coming from piled-up snow and branches under a bush, Cricket suspects that a cougar has hidden its dinner. Her father, Warden McKay, proves her right when he shows up at her school, giving an emergency presentation about cougars. A cougar has been seen in their village, which is located inside Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta. After Cricket’s dad informs kids about some cougar facts, Principal Singh gives students a rare week off from school. It’s odd, then, that the warden’s children proceed to wander the village. However, McDowell’s books about Cricket typically favor facts about wildlife above all else, and, also typically, this one does not disappoint. It even clarifies one statistic as specifically Canadian. Overall, the dialogue is more natural than in Salamander Rescue (2016), if equally packed with information. The nine chapters and epilogue are accessible, entertaining, and empowering for young naturalists. The compelling plot twist: Anxious villagers are accusing cougars of a series of large-mammal crimes. Cricket, knowing that cougar relocation can be fatal, wants to ensure continued, occasional village visits by a family of tracked cougars. She devises a scheme to trap the real culprit. Illustrations are pleasant enough, depicting a largely white cast, though at least three characters have Asian surnames.

Young environmentalists will appreciate seeing how facts can defy frenzy. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2064-7

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Another STEAM winner.

TO THE MOON

From the Sydney & Simon series

The STEAM twins are back in a new adventure (Go Green!, 2015, etc.), this time competing against each other to win a chance to meet famous astronaut Cmdr. Kris Kornfield.

As soon as she spies the poster announcing the contest, creative, artsy Sydney has her idea—a 3-D model of the moon—and for a change, she isn’t sharing it with her twin: she wants to win more than she wants to team with her brother. Simon is rather at loose ends on his own but makes observations and does research about the moon each night, educating readers about its phases and introducing solid science vocabulary. The mouse twins’ parents subtly try to point out the two are missing critical pieces, but it’s not until Ms. Fractalini introduces them to the work of Galileo that the twins see what’s missing. Now a team, they use a homemade telescope to make observations and the 3-D printer in the Makerspace Lab of their public library to print an accurate puzzle of the moon’s phases. Their classmates’ projects don’t all combine all the STEAM elements: there’s a poem, a crater model, a spaceship model, and a toothpick house that might someday be built on the moon. In this outing, the Reynoldses make Simon and Sydney a bit more kidlike than in prior outings, with their flaws and their enthusiasm. The learning readers will pick up about the moon is virtually painless, and Cmdr. Kornfield’s reveal is a nice touch.

Another STEAM winner. (glossary, note) (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58089-679-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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