TURN IT LOOSE

THE SCIENTIST IN ABSOLUTELY EVERYBODY

In this relentlessly enthusiastic esteem-builder, Swanson argues that everyone gets a “cool kit of science skills,” useful in any walk of life. These skills include the ability to ask questions, collect, and classify, to spot patterns and inconsistencies, to learn from mistakes, to observe, and to wonder—and to back up her claim, she drops dozens of names in anecdotal examples, from “Charley” Darwin and “Tom” Edison to Wayne Gretzky, Amelia Earhart, Louis Armstrong, and Dr. Seuss. In each topical chapter she also throws out general ideas for low-tech projects or games dubbed “Brainplay” exercises. Illustrated throughout with look-alike cartoon figures, and nearly devoid of systematic biographical data, this, like Judith St. George’s So You Want to Be an Inventor? (2002), is better suited to motivational reading than educational inquiry. (bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-15)

Pub Date: May 1, 2004

ISBN: 1-55037-851-1

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2004

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HOOT

The straight-arrow son of a maybe-federal agent (he’s not quite sure) turns eco-terrorist in this first offering for kids from one of detective fiction’s funniest novelists. Fans of Hiaasen’s (Basket Case, 2001, etc.) novels for adults may wonder how well his profane and frequently kinky writing will adapt to a child’s audience; the answer is, remarkably well. Roy Eberhardt has recently arrived in Florida; accustomed to being the new kid after several family moves, he is more of an observer than a participant. When he observes a bare-footed boy running through the subdivisions of Coconut Grove, however, he finds himself compelled to follow and, later, to ally himself with the strange boy called Mullet Fingers. Meanwhile, the dimwitted but appealingly dogged Officer Delinko finds himself compelled to crack the case of the mysterious vandals at the construction site of a new Mother Paula’s All-American Pancake House—it couldn’t have anything to do with those cute burrowing owls, could it? The plot doesn’t overwhelm with surprises; even the densest readers will soon suss out the connections between Mullet Fingers, the owls, and Mother Paula’s steadfast denial of the owls’ existence. The fun lies in Hiaasen’s trademark twisted characters, including Dana Matherson, the class bully who regularly beats up on Roy and whose unwitting help Roy wickedly enlists; Beatrice Leep, Mullet Fingers’s fiercely loyal sister and co-conspirator; Curly, Mother Paula’s hilariously inept foreman; and Roy’s equally straight-arrow parents, who encourage him to do the right thing without exactly telling him how. Roy is rather surprisingly engaging, given his utter and somewhat unnatural wholesomeness; it’s his kind of determined innocence that sees through the corruption and compromises of the adult world to understand what must be done to make things right. If the ending is somewhat predictable, it is also entirely satisfying—Hoot is, indeed, a hoot. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2002

ISBN: 0-375-82181-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2002

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SCAT

During a field trip to Black Vine Swamp, a suspicious “wildfire” breaks out, and much-feared and -reviled science teacher Mrs. Starch vanishes. The school gets a letter stating she is away on a “family emergency,” but no one believes that. Nick Waters and his friend Marta Gonzales are sure bad-boy Duane “Smoke” Scrod, Jr., is to blame for both fire and disappearance. However, there’s more to Duane, Mrs. Starch and the fire than Nick or Marta could ever imagine. This is Hiaasen Country, so the complications include a rare Florida panther, a crooked oil company, a tree-hugging Hayduke of a millionaire and a couple of well-meaning-but-not-as-swift-as-the-kids detectives. Hiaasen’s third outing for young readers might be a little slow in pacing and the character types might be recognizable to experienced readers, but fans of Hoot and Flush (2002, 2005) will not be disappointed by this funny, believable, environmentally friendly tween thriller. (Thriller. 10-15)

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-375-83486-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2008

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