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An unusual and satisfying collection, and who will quibble with the Chicago Cubs’ “Lesson Learned”: “Believe you will...

If at first you don’t succeed, then at least enjoy the epic failures of others, for as well as the pleasures of schadenfreude, there are lessons to be learned.

Boyer presents 128 pages of whopping failures, flubs, and snafus—and even a few unexpected winners—in this fizzy selection. It’s busily designed, with squibs of text, photos, bright colors, speech balloons, and a boxed item for each failure with timeworn words of encouragement: “Lesson Learned.” Some of the examples are just plain flops (does anybody really miss the Segway?), but some are dangerous, too, as in those weighted, spiked lawn darts. “Nearly 5,000 kids wound up in emergency rooms.” (There is no “Lesson Learned” for that fiasco.) There are also failures that turned into winners—Slinky started life as a stabilizer for sensitive battleship equipment, which it didn’t stabilize—and happy accidents, such as the birth of the Popsicle after its 11-year-old inventor noticed his drink had frozen overnight. Then there are the perils of time and publishing. “The Chicago Cubs baseball team once seemed unstoppable,” back in 1907 and 1908, “[but] they haven’t won a World Series since.”

An unusual and satisfying collection, and who will quibble with the Chicago Cubs’ “Lesson Learned”: “Believe you will succeed!”? (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4263-2548-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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Though usually cast as the trickster, Coyote is more victim than victimizer, making this a nice complement to other Coyote...

Two republished tales by a Greco-Cherokee author feature both folkloric and modern elements as well as new illustrations.

One of the two has never been offered south of the (Canadian) border. In “Coyote Sings to the Moon,” the doo-wop hymn sung nightly by Old Woman and all the animals except tone-deaf Coyote isn’t enough to keep Moon from hiding out at the bottom of the lake—until she is finally driven forth by Coyote’s awful wailing. She has been trying to return to the lake ever since, but that piercing howl keeps her in the sky. In “Coyote’s New Suit” he is schooled in trickery by Raven, who convinces him to steal the pelts of all the other animals while they’re bathing, sends the bare animals to take clothes from the humans’ clothesline, and then sets the stage for a ruckus by suggesting that Coyote could make space in his overcrowded closet by having a yard sale. No violence ensues, but from then to now humans and animals have not spoken to one another. In Eggenschwiler’s monochrome scenes Coyote and the rest stand on hind legs and (when stripped bare) sport human limbs. Old Woman might be Native American; the only other completely human figure is a pale-skinned girl.

Though usually cast as the trickster, Coyote is more victim than victimizer, making this a nice complement to other Coyote tales. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55498-833-4

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Starting with a lonely slice of pizza pictured on the cover and the first page, Thornhill launches into a wide-ranging study of the history and culture of food—where it comes from, how to eat it and what our food industries are doing to the planet. It’s a lot to hang on that slice of pizza, but there are plenty of interesting tidbits here, from Clarence Birdseye’s experiments with frozen food to how mad cow disease causes the brain to turn spongy to industrial food production and global warming. Unfortunately, the volume is designed like a bad high-school yearbook. Most pages are laid out in text boxes, each containing a paragraph on a discrete topic, but with little in the way of an organizing theme to tie together the content of the page or spread. Too many colors, too much jumbled-together information and total reliance on snippets of information make this a book for young readers more interested in browsing than reading. Kids at the upper edge of the book's range would be better served by Richie Chevat's adaptation of Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma (2009). (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-897349-96-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Maple Tree Press

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2010

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