Adler anchors great numbers in cool facts, but once past a billion, the zeroes are still helplessly dizzying.

MILLIONS, BILLIONS, & TRILLIONS

UNDERSTANDING BIG NUMBERS

Adler endeavors to get a grip on the slipperiness of big numbers.

Adler, along with Miller and his cut-out–style, cartoony artwork, has delivered on all manner of math, to the delight of those who turn into deer-in-the-headlights when confronted with numbers (Perimeter, Area, and Volume, 2012, etc.). Here they take a stab at wrapping young heads around millions and billions and beyond. The book starts out with “One million is a lot. It’s one thousand thousands,” but words aren’t enough. You have got to visualize. A million is the number of sugar granules in a quarter-cup measure. Spill them out on a piece of construction paper and take a gander. One million. They try to keep the mood upbeat, counting sundaes (with a billion dollars, “[a]t five dollars a sundae, you could buy one thousand sundaes every day for more than five hundred years”) or birthday parties—but they throw in the towel on a grace note and a reprieve: “You couldn’t count to a trillion.” There are also a couple of bracingly sly jabs: “Someone with one billion dollars could give away ten million dollars every year for one hundred years.” Listen up, you 1 percent. An abbreviated tour from quadrillion to sextillion is followed by the deflating news that “names for large numbers are not the same everywhere. In some parts of the world, what we call a billion is called a milliard,” but by now we have come to suspect these big numbers are pretty crazy creatures.

Adler anchors great numbers in cool facts, but once past a billion, the zeroes are still helplessly dizzying. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2403-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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A solo debut for Wenzel showcasing both technical chops and a philosophical bent.

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THEY ALL SAW A CAT

Wouldn’t the same housecat look very different to a dog and a mouse, a bee and a flea, a fox, a goldfish, or a skunk?

The differences are certainly vast in Wenzel’s often melodramatic scenes. Benign and strokable beneath the hand of a light-skinned child (visible only from the waist down), the brindled cat is transformed to an ugly, skinny slinker in a suspicious dog’s view. In a fox’s eyes it looks like delectably chubby prey but looms, a terrifying monster, over a cowering mouse. It seems a field of colored dots to a bee; jagged vibrations to an earthworm; a hairy thicket to a flea. “Yes,” runs the terse commentary’s refrain, “they all saw the cat.” Words in italics and in capital letters in nearly every line give said commentary a deliberate cadence and pacing: “The cat walked through the world, / with its whiskers, ears, and paws… // and the fish saw A CAT.” Along with inviting more reflective viewers to ruminate about perception and subjectivity, the cat’s perambulations offer elemental visual delights in the art’s extreme and sudden shifts in color, texture, and mood from one page or page turn to the next.

A solo debut for Wenzel showcasing both technical chops and a philosophical bent. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4521-5013-0

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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Cute and brave—gee, Rot’s spud-tacular!

ROT, THE BRAVEST IN THE WORLD!

A “scaredy-spud” puts on his brave face.

All “mutant potatoes” love mud. Mud is good for playing games, eating, and even sleeping. But few taters have more tender feelings toward muck than Rot. À la Pete the Cat, Rot celebrates mud in song: “Mud between my toes! / Mud in my nose! / Mud is GREAT / wherever it GOES!” When Rot’s big brother, Snot, tells Rot about the Squirm that lives “deep down in the mushy muck,” his love quickly turns to fear. But he doesn’t give up! Instead, Rot imagines himself in various disguises to work up courage. There’s “Super Spud” (a superhero), “Sir Super Rot, the Brave and Bold” (a superhero-knight), and even “Sir Super Rot the Pigtato” (a, um, superhero-knight-pig-potato). The disguises are one thing, but, deep down, is Rot really brave enough to face the Squirm? Readers wooed by Rot’s charm in Rot: The Cutest in the World (2017) will laugh out loud at this well-paced encore—and it’s not just because of the butt cracks. Clanton creates a winning dynamic, balancing Rot’s earnestness, witty dialogue, and an omniscient, slightly melodramatic narrator. The cartoon illustrations were created using watercolors, colored pencils, digital collage, and—brilliantly—potato stamps. Clanton’s reliance on earth tones makes for some clever, surprising page turns when the palette is broken.

Cute and brave—gee, Rot’s spud-tacular! (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6764-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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