A labored effort to revive a series that never was quite as clever as it tried to be.

READ REVIEW

BAD HAIR DAY

From the Franny K. Stein, Mad Scientist series , Vol. 8

Another science experiment literally goes hair-raisingly wrong.

Following a 10-year hiatus, Franny returns to whip up more mad science in her bedroom laboratory. Initially rejecting her mother’s efforts to turn her on to hair spray and blow drying, Franny recalls that science is all about exploring the unknown (“Even if it’s the really super-weird stuff that moms like”) and so whips up a line of twisted beauty products. These include a Cosmetic Bazooka that blasts out whole, heavily made-up faces and “shoe polish” that turns high heels into really high heels. Eventually a version of the latter not only extends her pigtails to Rapunzel length, but brings them to life—whereupon they snip themselves off and rush out to menace every barber shop, salon, and furry pet in town. Cue a seesaw struggle which Franny, with help from her canine assistant Igor, ends by temporarily immobilizing her errant locks with hair spray and then presenting her mom with a new “fur” coat. Franny’s enthusiasm for hands-on experimentation, and the slightly menacing grimace she sports in many of the ink-and-wash cartoons that fill half or more of nearly every page, may add a certain raffish charm, but the quaint, not to say sexist, satiric tropes went stale long ago. Franny and her mom present white.

A labored effort to revive a series that never was quite as clever as it tried to be. (Science fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: July 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1337-5

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A floral fantasia for casual browsers as well as budding botanists.

THE BIG BOOK OF BLOOMS

Spirited illustrations brighten a large-format introduction to flowers and their pollinators.

Showing a less Eurocentric outlook than in his Big Book of Birds (2019), Zommer employs agile brushwork and a fondness for graceful lines and bright colors to bring to life bustling bouquets from a range of habitats, from rainforest to desert. Often switching from horizontal to vertical orientations, the topical spreads progress from overviews of major floral families and broad looks at plant anatomy and reproduction to close-ups of select flora—roses and tulips to Venus flytraps and stinking flowers. The book then closes with a shoutout to the conservators and other workers at Kew Gardens (this is a British import) and quick suggestions for young balcony or windowsill gardeners. In most of the low-angled scenes, fancifully drawn avian or insect pollinators with human eyes hover around all the large, luscious blooms, as do one- or two-sentence comments that generally add cogent observations or insights: “All parts of the deadly nightshade plant contain poison. It has been used to poison famous emperors, kings and warriors throughout history.” (Confusingly for the audience, the accurate but limited assertion that bees “often visit blue or purple flowers” appears to be contradicted by an adjacent view of several zeroing in on a yellow toadflax.) Human figures, or, in one scene, hands, are depicted in a variety of sizes, shapes, and skin colors.

A floral fantasia for casual browsers as well as budding botanists. (glossary, index) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-500-65199-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The story feels a bit contrived, but Ada will be a welcome addition to the small circle of science-loving girls in the...

ADA LACE, ON THE CASE

From the Ada Lace series , Vol. 1

Using science and technology, third-grader Ada Lace kicks off her new series by solving a mystery even with her leg in a cast.

Temporarily housebound after a badly executed bungee jump, Ada uses binoculars to document the ecosystem of her new neighborhood in San Francisco. She records her observations in a field journal, a project that intrigues new friend Nina, who lives nearby. When they see that Ms. Reed’s dog, Marguerite, is missing, they leap to the conclusion that it has been stolen. Nina does the legwork and Ada provides the technology for their search for the dognapper. Story-crafting takes a back seat to scene-setting in this series kickoff that introduces the major players. As part of the series formula, science topics and gadgetry are integrated into the stories and further explained in a “Behind the Science” afterword. This installment incorporates drones, a wireless camera, gecko gloves, and the Turing test as well as the concept of an ecosystem. There are no ethnic indicators in the text, but the illustrations reveal that Ada, her family, and bratty neighbor Milton are white; Nina appears to be Southeast Asian; and Mr. Peebles, an inventor who lives nearby, is black.

The story feels a bit contrived, but Ada will be a welcome addition to the small circle of science-loving girls in the chapter-book world. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8599-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more