Fun but arbitrary; the real excitement starts when something sparks an interest and there isn’t enough here to satisfy your...

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THE 50 STATES

EXPLORE THE U.S.A. WITH 50 FACT-FILLED MAPS!

A gallimaufry of facts, oddities, and personalities makes Balkan and Linero’s work a storybook atlas, leaving the navigation to your GPS.

Balkan and Linero have eschewed the topographical for the narrative in hopes of presenting something of the distinctive character of each state in the Union, plus good old D.C. The oversized pages brim with small clumps of information, resulting in lots of introductory factoids with very little of substance. There is a vest-pocket introduction to each state, a timeline of selectively significant dates in the state’s history, and boxes of key facts, such as capital city, state flower and bird, time zone. Effort has been taken to present an array of personalities associated with the state—assiduously varying gender, ethnicity, and race—and to provide what might be called iconic elements. There are Tlingit nation canoes in Alaska, Walden Pond in Massachusetts, Harpers Ferry in West Virginia (but also the first pepperoni roll and first red-brick street; not all icons are serious business). In addition, for each state the author has included at least one writer, as well as Caldecott and Newbery winners. Though the atlas is quite busy, the color is oddly muted; the saltwater-taffy chromatic range blends the states together rather than highlighting their distinguishing features.

Fun but arbitrary; the real excitement starts when something sparks an interest and there isn’t enough here to satisfy your curiosity. (Atlas. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-84780-711-3

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.

WAYSIDE SCHOOL BENEATH THE CLOUD OF DOOM

Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Pippi is an inspired creation knit from daydreams.

PIPPI LONGSTOCKING

A fresh delicious fantasy that children will love.

In the character of 9-year-old Pippi Longstocking, who was lucky to have no parents to tell her what to do, is a juvenile Robin Hood with the authority of Mammy Yokum and a Mighty Mouse. Pippi- red headed, in longstockings (one black and one brown), and the strongest girl in the world was the friend of Tommy and Annika. Calmly and ingeniously she put down the enemy forces of the adult world — with a serene efficiency. The teacher was baffled by her logic in pointing out the futility of learning arithmetic; bullies she hoisted on trees; at the circus Pippi rode bareback, walked the tightrope, and wrestled the wrestling champ; cream and sugar flowed (on the floor) when Pippi attended a ladies' coffee party where she revealed "horrid things" with the complacency of Eliza Doolittle. Champion of fun, freedom and fantasy and long happy thoughts,

Pippi is an inspired creation knit from daydreams.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 1950

ISBN: 978-0-14-030957-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1950

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