If this book were a pizza, young readers would gobble down every slice—and demand more for dessert.

READ REVIEW

IF

A MIND-BENDING NEW WAY OF LOOKING AT BIG IDEAS AND NUMBERS

Continuing his exploration of the mind-expanding possibilities of scale modeling, Smith extends the premise of If America Were a Village (2009) to encompass life, time and the universe.

Following a well-taken note that his comparisons are mostly approximations, the author proposes thinking of Earth’s life span as a month, all wealth as 100 coins and 14 similar transformations designed to make incomprehensibly huge numbers or measurements at least theoretically graspable. The trick doesn’t always work (“If the Milky Way galaxy were shrunk to the size of a dinner plate...,” the visible universe “would be about the size of Belgium”), but it does offer readers a chance to think of time, for instance, in terms of days or minutes instead of millions of years. Better yet, Adams’ painted infographics offer literal visualizations of the planets as balls of different sizes, of where inventions from fire to smartphones would lie relative to one another along a ruler or tape measure, and how many “slices” of our life are consumed in sleeping—if our life were a pizza. In a closing note addressed to adults, the author suggests further scaling and numeracy-building exercises.

If this book were a pizza, young readers would gobble down every slice—and demand more for dessert. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-894786-34-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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This may spark a few imaginations, but its lack of directions and the difficulty level of most of the projects—not to...

WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH ONLY ONE SHOE?

REUSE, RECYCLE, REINVENT

Readers learn how to “Reuse, Recycle, Reinvent” what some might call trash into treasures.  

Rhyming poems each introduce a single way to reuse/reinvent something: A toilet becomes a planter, the titular shoe morphs into a birdhouse, a (very large, nonstandard) light bulb houses a fish, and favorite jeans that are holey? They become a new purse. The most creative has to be a table supported by a pitchfork: “If you’re wanting to picnic on uneven ground, / where your table’s unstable or up on a mound, / stop and think! Be creative! The answer’s around.” While cans, wood and wire are both easily found and transformed into musical instruments, not all these projects use such common materials or are as simple to complete: Half of a boat turns into a covered bench, a car becomes a bed, and a grocery cart transforms into a chair. And although it’s neat to see a farmer’s new watering trough (an enormous tire) and a community’s new playground (an old ambulance anchors it), these are not projects that are likely to fire readers up to do similar things. Cartoon spot illustrations share space with photographs of the new inventions, and both are needed to make sense of the poems.

This may spark a few imaginations, but its lack of directions and the difficulty level of most of the projects—not to mention its failure to impart reasons for reducing, reusing and recycling—make this one to skip. (Poetry. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55451-642-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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It doesn’t make a lick of sense, but it’s great value per page.

BENJI FRANKLIN: KID ZILLIONAIRE

From the Benji Franklin: Kid Zillionaire series , Vol. 1

This book is the best cartoon that Hanna-Barbera never made.

Benji has more money than he can count. He may be even wealthier than Richie Rich or Scrooge McDuck, so he can spend all his time searching for lost dinosaurs and flying into space with an eccentric scientist. He earned his fortune by designing an app that generates excuses. (“I’m a kid” works in almost any situation.) As soon as Benji becomes a zillionaire, he buys himself a space station. “[I]t’s a great place to keep my zoo,” he tells an interviewer. If Benji had had a TV show back in the 1970s, fans would be fighting over his toys right now on eBay. Not a single moment of the story is plausible. Benji’s adventures are funnier than anything that happened to Jonny Quest or Josie and the Pussycats. The book wasn’t written in the 1970s, so the pace is much faster than Jonny Quest. On one page, the characters are building a chicken coop near an airplane hangar. On another, they’re saving the world from an asteroid. Benji looks exactly the way a cartoon character should, in any time period: one part Richie Rich, one part Scott Pilgrim. Vimislik’s illustrations are like everything in the book: not at all realistic but very, very funny.

It doesn’t make a lick of sense, but it’s great value per page. (Humorous adventure. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4342-6419-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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