Mission most definitely accomplished, thanks to lucid explanations and a steady focus on participatory instruction.

JUNIOR ASTRONAUT

BREAKING THROUGH THE SPACE BARRIER

A quick course in rocket science and aerodynamics features ’50s-style retro illustrations and rrrrobust narrrration in a Scots accent.

As introduction, readers are invited to wave a sheet of paper to experience air resistance, then fold it into an airplane (step diagrams provided) and “[t]hrow it as hard as you can into the sky and see how you get on” to watch gravity in action. A flashback through history offers interactive ganders at gunpowder and early rockets. This is followed by further demonstrations (with very simple animations) that show how modern rockets use controlled thrust, stabilizing fins and stages to counter atmospheric effects, the aforementioned gravity and even changes in the center of gravity to reach outer space. Tapping occasional “More Science!” tabs opens sidebars with additional details. A final exam of sorts challenges readers to assemble a rocket from correctly chosen parts, which leads to a dramatic takeoff and a congratulatory “Jnr Astronaut” designation. American readers may miss English equivalents to the metric measurements, but this may prove a salutary reminder that the rest of the world eschews pounds and miles. Though a three-round bout with Mexican wrestler “El Gravitino” partway along is more distracting than instructive, children will come away with a firm grasp of rocketry’s basic principles as well as some relevant physics, such as the difference between “mass” and “weight.”

Mission most definitely accomplished, thanks to lucid explanations and a steady focus on participatory instruction. (iPad informational app. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Immediate Media Company

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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The message is worthy, but this phoned-in follow-up doesn’t add anything significant.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE SCHOOLS

From the My Purple World series

A color-themed vision of what school should be like.

In what amounts to a rehash of The World Needs More Purple People (2020), Bell and Hart address adult as well as young readers to explain what “curious and kind you” can do to make school, or for that matter the universe, a better place. Again culminating in the vague but familiar “JUST. BE. YOU!” the program remains much the same—including asking questions both “universe-sized” (“Could you make a burrito larger than a garbage truck?”) and “smaller, people-sized” (i.e., personal), working hard to learn and make things, offering praise and encouragement, speaking up and out, laughing together, and listening to others. In the illustrations, light-skinned, blond-haired narrator Penny poses amid a busy, open-mouthed, diverse cast that includes a child wearing a hijab and one who uses a wheelchair. Wiseman opts to show fewer grown-ups here, but the children are the same as in the earlier book, and a scene showing two figures blowing chocolate milk out of their noses essentially recycles a visual joke from the previous outing. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

The message is worthy, but this phoned-in follow-up doesn’t add anything significant. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-43490-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE PEOPLE

A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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