This America at Work entry features cartoon illustrations of a smiling family on a trip “out east” to a Junior Miners’ hockey tournament. The mother works in a molybdenum mine, the father works in a steel mill, and parental offers to take their twins to work meet with great approval. Even readers unfamiliar with the series may surmise, rightly, that this is going to be a wordy ride through material that may or may not be useful in writing school reports. Cutaway charts intended to support the hackneyed premise do little to clarify the goings on in an underground mine; two miners in hard hats who are “making the roof safe,” for example, shore up a shaft with what appear to be automatic weapons with tiny flying buttresses set on the shaft’s floor. The topic-driven trip includes visits to a steel mill, an airplane ride, an oil well, a toxic dump, a picnic in a park that was once a coal pit, and ends in a hockey arena, with the kids asking all the right questions to keep the facts flowing. They count things made from steel or oil in an “interactivity” befitting the automaton-like nature of progeny who actually let their mother get away with lecturing, “At a smelter, the bits of molybdenum ore are heated and refined to form a powder of pure molybdenum.” (index) (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 1-55074-508-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1999


Who is next in the ocean food chain? Pallotta has a surprising answer in this picture book glimpse of one curious boy. Danny, fascinated by plankton, takes his dory and rows out into the ocean, where he sees shrimp eating those plankton, fish sand eels eating shrimp, mackerel eating fish sand eels, bluefish chasing mackerel, tuna after bluefish, and killer whales after tuna. When an enormous humpbacked whale arrives on the scene, Danny’s dory tips over and he has to swim for a large rock or become—he worries’someone’s lunch. Surreal acrylic illustrations in vivid blues and red extend the story of a small boy, a small boat, and a vast ocean, in which the laws of the food chain are paramount. That the boy has been bathtub-bound during this entire imaginative foray doesn’t diminish the suspense, and the facts Pallotta presents are solidly researched. A charming fish tale about the one—the boy—that got away. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-88106-075-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000


PLB 0-531-33140-7 Ketcham’s first book is based on an allegedly true story of a childhood incident in the life of Johann Sebastian Bach. It starts with a couple of pages regaling the Bach home and all the Johanns in the family, who made their fame through music. After his father’s death, Johann Sebastian goes to live with his brother, Johann Christoph, where he boasts that he is the best organist in the world. Johann Christoph contradicts him: “Old Adam Reincken is the best.” So Johann Sebastian sets out to hear the master himself. In fact, he is humbled to tears, but there is hope that he will be the world’s best organist one day. Johann Sebastian emerges as little more than a brat, Reincken as more of a suggestion than a character. Bush’s illustrations are most transporting when offering details of the landscape, but his protagonist is too impish to give the story much authority. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-531-30140-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1999

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