A positive and fun-filled challenge to recognize and apply the underlying principles of science in everyday life.

NEWTON AND CURIE

THE SCIENCE SQUIRRELS

Furry-tailed but not furry-headed, brother and sister Newton and Curie set out to conquer their world with science.

A nearby school for humans provides all the impetus needed to discover what makes everything work. From comprehending the amazing combo of force, mass, and gravity required for playground swings to the secrets of seesaws and pulleys, the intrepid experimenters can’t get enough. They test ideas using trial and error to refine their science projects. The children’s teacher, a woman of color, introduces diagrams of simple machines to a diverse group of grade school children. The information is not lost on the spying squirrel siblings, who apply the principles to return a fallen nest of four (miraculously intact) robins’ eggs to their relieved parents’ tree. How do birds defy gravity when flying? Newton and Currie can’t wait to find out! Kirk’s simple STEAM-driven text seamlessly leads readers from one tenet of physics to another as it’s applied to common objects. Kirk’s use of the schoolroom whiteboard to educate the squirrels is a clever visual aid. The anthropomorphic characters’ clothing reflects the casual dress of the students, and the bright palette is a perfect attention-getter for the story’s targeted audience. Repeated images of simple machines cover the endpapers, and the backmatter includes an introduction to some basic laws of physics, a detailed glossary, and links to science websites. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

A positive and fun-filled challenge to recognize and apply the underlying principles of science in everyday life. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3748-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Hee haw.

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow,...

MY NEW FRIEND IS SO FUN!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Can Gerald and Piggie’s friendship withstand the friendly overtures of Brian Bat?

When Snake informs Gerald that Piggie is playing with Brian Bat, he is at first complacent. Brian is “nice,” he observes; Snake concurs—after all, he says, “Brian is my Best Friend!” Their mutual reflection that Piggie and Brian “must be having a super-duper fun time!” turns, however, to paranoia when they realize that if their best pals “are having that much fun together, then… / …maybe they do not need us” (that last is printed in teeny-tiny, utterly demoralized type). Gerald and Snake dash/slither to put an end to the fun. Their fears are confirmed when the two new buddies tell them they have “been playing BEST FRIEND GAMES!”—which, it turns out, means making drawings of their respective best friends, Gerald and Snake. Awww. While the buildup to the friends’ confrontation is characteristically funny, there’s a certain feeling of anticlimax to the story’s resolution. How many young children, when playing with a new friend, are likely to spend their time thinking of the friends that they are not playing with? This is unfortunate, as the emotions that Gerald and Snake experience are realistic and profound, deserving of more than a platitudinous, unrealistic response.

Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow, color-coded speech bubbles, hilarious body language—except an emotionally satisfying ending. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7958-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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