Slight at best.

READ REVIEW

SANDWICH SHENANIGANS

From the What Happened? series

It is the day the fifth graders submit their STEAM projects to be judged at the school fair.

The fair’s theme is “What My Country Means to Me.” After Sam Witt’s 50-state mega-sandwich disappears, the day continues to produce many other unexpected mysteries. Ravi sees the shadows of evil alien invaders in Mr. Hargrove’s classroom. Animal-loving Shaniqua is convinced that the news reporters on TV announced that a tiger escaped from the zoo and is running loose in the neighborhood. When Deanna sees the police standing in front of the school, she knows for sure her arrest is imminent for illicitly taking home the school library’s reference copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Aspiring foodie author Mateo mistakes the substitute teacher’s pre-labor pains—and baby bump—as evidence she’s the culprit who has eaten Sam’s large sandwich. Moore has cast a diverse group of students in this mystery, mostly relying on naming convention and Huddleston’s illustrations rather than textual details to indicate identity. Troublingly, Deanna claims Pawnee heritage to back up her Kansas bona fides as she auditions for the role of Dorothy. Overall, the characters come across as rather dim—not the sorts of kids actual upper-elementary students are likely to identify with. Companion titles Lab Mice Heist, Math Test Mischief, and Stage Two Hullabaloo publish simultaneously.

Slight at best. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63163-316-4

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Jolly Fish Press

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Wholesome, uncomplicated fare for the younger Matt Christopher crowd.

THE MISSING BASEBALL

From the Zach and Zoe Mysteries series , Vol. 1

Lupica kicks off a new series starring a pair of 8-year-old twins who solve sports-themed mysteries.

Even the pleasures of competing in various events during his school’s Spirit Week dim a smidge for Zach Walker when the prized autographed baseball he brings to his third-grade class for show and tell vanishes. Happily, his bookish but equally sports-loving sister, Zoe, is on the case, and by the time of the climactic baseball game at week’s end, she has pieced together clues and deductions that lead to the lost treasure—which had not been stolen but batted through an open window by the teacher’s cat and stashed in a storage shed by the custodian. In the co-published sequel, The Half-Court Hero, the equally innocuous conundrum hangs on the identity of the mysterious “guardian angel” who is fixing up a run-down playground basketball court. Along with plenty of suspenseful sports action, the author highlights in both tales the values of fair play, teamwork, and doing the “right thing.” The Walker family presents white, but in both the narrative and Danger’s appropriately bland (if inappropriately static) illustrations, the supporting cast shows some racial and ethnic diversity.

Wholesome, uncomplicated fare for the younger Matt Christopher crowd. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-425-28936-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more