THE MARE’S NEST

Bowen (Stranded on Plimoth Plantation 1626, 1994) makes a brave and not very successful effort to turn some two dozen of Kimble’s folk-art livestock portraits into a connected narrative. Seeking commissions, an itinerant 19th-century artist seems to follow an animal thief through a series of Vermont towns. After puzzling over such clues as hearing several animals utter “Ite-osh-urr,” and learning that no white animals are stolen, he solves the mystery at a county fair in Castleton, at which the culprit is revealed as a “whitewasher” attempting to put disguised livestock up for auction. The painter collects a reward, allowing him to realize a long-held dream of visiting Africa. Applying thin layers of paint to distressed antique wood, Kimble depicts big, bushy cats, dignified horses, and other creatures in simple, usually rural settings, sliding into whimsy with a proud rooster decked out in red, white, and blue, then closes with a spread of elephants, giraffes, and the like. Children will enjoy the individual pictures, but next to such folk-art showcases as Barbara Ann Porte’s Chickens! Chickens! (1995) and Black Elephant with a Brown Ear (in Alabama) (1996), this comes off as a rambling, wordy contrivance. (Picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 31, 2001

ISBN: 0-06-028408-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2001

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A fun-if-flimsy vehicle for science lovers.

DRAGONS VS. UNICORNS

From the Kate the Chemist series

A fifth grade girl brings her love of chemistry to the school play.

Kate loves science so much she’s determined to breathe fire. Of course she knows that she needs adult supervision, and so, with her science teacher’s help, Kate demonstrates an experiment with cornstarch and a blowtorch that nearly sets her teacher’s cactus on fire. Consequences ensue. Can someone who loves science as much as Kate does find pleasure spending her fall break at drama camp? It turns out that even the school play—Dragons vs. Unicorns—needs a chemist, though, and Kate saves the day with glue and glitter. She’s sabotaged along the way, but everything is fine after Kate and her frenemy agree to communicate better (an underwhelming response to escalating bullying). Doodles decorate the pages; steps for the one experiment described that can be done at home—making glittery unicorn-horn glue—are included. The most exciting experiments depicted, though, include flames or liquid nitrogen and could only be done with the help of a friendly science teacher. Biberdorf teaches chemistry at the University of Texas and also performs science-education programs as “Kate the Chemist”; in addition to giving her protagonist her name and enthusiasm, she also seems represented in Kate-the-character’s love of the fictional YouTube personality “Dr. Caroline.” Kate and her nemesis are white; Kate’s best friends are black and South Asian.

A fun-if-flimsy vehicle for science lovers. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11655-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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ENCYCLOPEDIA BROWN CRACKS THE CASE

Having kept Idaville crime free “for more than a year”—more like 44 years, to be precise—the still-ten-year-old Leroy “Encyclopedia” Brown takes on ten more scams, misdemeanors and outright felonies. Whether dealing with the theft of various precious items (including an autographed baseball from a case that is, literally, cracked) or the efforts of high-school dropout Wilford Wiggins and ne’er-do-well bully Bugs Meany to cheat local children out of their hard-earned savings, the precocious preteen unfailingly delivers the revealing question or significant fact that forces a confession. Only readers well enough informed to know how the author of Alice in Wonderland spelled his pseudonym, or attentive enough to spot the tiny slip in a suspect’s story, will keep up—all others can look to the answers in the back. That’s a formula that still works after more than a generation. (art not seen) (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-525-47924-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2007

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