Starting with an overview of how researchers look at humor, this uneven guide to a topic with potentially high kid-appeal...

WHAT'S SO FUNNY?

MAKING SENSE OF HUMOR

A light introduction to the appealing, complicated subject of humor lacks the depth to do it justice.

Starting with an overview of how researchers look at humor, this uneven guide to a topic with potentially high kid-appeal meanders through loosely connected aspects of humor, offering anecdotes, quotes from experts and intriguing facts. Short chapters touch on the anatomy of laughter and the history of laugh tracks. A longer chapter discusses how humor differs between genders, among cultures and age groups and throughout history. Readers may be most interested in the final chapter on stand-up comedy and how to be funny. Jackson relies heavily on quotes from interviews with humor experts, working their names and titles awkwardly into the text. The academic nature of the quotes, suitable to a more substantial study of humor, jars with the author’s otherwise conversational, entry-level approach to the subject, raising questions about the intended audience. Generic cartoonish pictures and occasional jokes in boldface type illustrate points made in the text. Short sidebars explore topics such as the funny bone, tickling and texting abbreviations about humor.

Pub Date: June 9, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-670-01244-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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ONCE UPON A MARIGOLD

From the Marigold Trilogy series , Vol. 1

Cold indeed is the heart not made warm by this bubbly fairy-tale romance. Raised by a kindly forest troll, Christian knows little of the world beyond what he can see through his telescope, but gazing upon a nearby castle, he falls head over heels for Princess Marigold. What chance has he, though, as a (supposed) commoner? When at last he nerves himself to send her a message via carrier pigeon, she answers and the courtship is on—via “p-mail” at first, then, after he lands a job as a castle servant, face to face. Setting numerous fairy-tale conventions just a bit askew, Ferris (Of Sound Mind, 2001, etc.) surrounds her two smart, immensely likable teenagers, who are obviously made for each other, with rival suitors, hyperactive dogs, surprising allies, and strong adversaries. The most notable among the last is devious, domineering Queen Olympia, intent on forcing Marigold into marriage with a penniless, but noble, cipher. The author gets her commonsensical couple to “I Do” through brisk palace intrigue, life-threatening situations, riotous feasting, and general chaos; Queen Olympia gets suitable comeuppance, and the festivities are capped by the required revelation that Christian is actually heir to the throne of neighboring Zandelphia. Fans of Gail Carson Levine’s Princess Tales will be in familiar territory here, as well as seventh heaven. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-15-216791-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

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  • SPONSORED PLACEMENT

The rare immigrant chronicle that is as long on hope as it is on heartbreak.

INFINITE COUNTRY

A 15-year-old girl in Colombia, doing time in a remote detention center, orchestrates a jail break and tries to get home.

"People say drugs and alcohol are the greatest and most persuasive narcotics—the elements most likely to ruin a life. They're wrong. It's love." As the U.S. recovers from the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, from the misery of separations on the border, from both the idea and the reality of a wall around the United States, Engel's vital story of a divided Colombian family is a book we need to read. Weaving Andean myth and natural symbolism into her narrative—condors signify mating for life, jaguars revenge; the embattled Colombians are "a singed species of birds without feathers who can still fly"; children born in one country and raised in another are "repotted flowers, creatures forced to live in the wrong habitat"—she follows Talia, the youngest child, on a complex journey. Having committed a violent crime not long before she was scheduled to leave her father in Bogotá to join her mother and siblings in New Jersey, she winds up in a horrible Catholic juvie from which she must escape in order to make her plane. Hence the book's wonderful first sentence: "It was her idea to tie up the nun." Talia's cross-country journey is interwoven with the story of her parents' early romance, their migration to the United States, her father's deportation, her grandmother's death, the struggle to reunite. In the latter third of the book, surprising narrative shifts are made to include the voices of Talia's siblings, raised in the U.S. This provides interesting new perspectives, but it is a little awkward to break the fourth wall so late in the book. Attention, TV and movie people: This story is made for the screen.

The rare immigrant chronicle that is as long on hope as it is on heartbreak.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982159-46-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Bottom line: Stimulating for math geeks and proto–math geeks, more confusing than enlightening for the rest of us.

WE'VE GOT YOUR NUMBER

This breezy look at the tools, techniques, uses and universality of mathematics doesn’t add up to more than a muddle.

Patel begins by nonsensically arguing that since math is dependent on formal proofs and “beauty” (rather than evidence and experiments, which “don’t count for much”; take that, Galileo!), it’s not a science but “more like an art.” The author proceeds, however, to demonstrate the opposite by tracing its development through history as a tool for measurements and calculations that have promoted our understanding of the physical universe. Following opening chapters introducing number systems, primes, sets, zero and infinity, he whirls past types and uses of graphs and tessellations, imaginary numbers, algorithms, chaos theory, Newton’s laws of motion and more in single-topic spreads crowded with cartoon illustrations and boxed passages in high-contrast colors. Along with careless errors, such as twice misspelling Prussia’s capital and equating yards with meters in a measurement, the author delivers minidisquisitions on Menger sponges, Euler’s number and other curiosities that are unhelpfully vague, dizzyingly technical or both. Furthermore, on different pages he offers different etymologies for the term “mathematics,” and one of the several “Try this at home” demonstrations contradicts an adjacent claim that humans are bilaterally symmetrical.

Bottom line: Stimulating for math geeks and proto–math geeks, more confusing than enlightening for the rest of us. (glossary, perfunctory index) (Nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: July 30, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7534-7072-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Kingfisher

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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