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From the Jop and Blip Wanna Know series , Vol. 1

Nourishing fare for readers with a burning need to know.

Two robots discuss some of life’s big questions.

There’s as much going on between the lines here as in them. Big Jop’s response to little Blip’s titular penguin query—“I’ve never heard a better question about one”—demonstrates the respect that any and every query from a child merits, and the two go on to consider logically what it would take to get a penguin (for instance) to Mars. Following this, the two chew over a range of topics, including the origin of sandwiches, why we have two nostrils, the epistemological implications of a belief in dragons, and the story of the blind men and the elephant. (Jop: “You can be kind of right about something…and kind of wrong about something at the same time.”) It all serves to underscore the notion that even—or perhaps especially—silly questions are always worth asking. Benton presents this profound exchange in plain language and panels of deceptively simple cartoon depictions of, say, guts (funny as well as relevant!) and comically overdone reaction shots. Jop and Blip vaguely resemble popeyed versions of C-3PO and R2-D2, and if the three blind, white-bearded men are identical except for having pink, brown, and yellow skin, the other human figures throughout generally vary in features as well as skin tone. An activity page closes each chapter (one is a maze that challenges readers to trace a hot dog through the digestive tract of a penguin).

Nourishing fare for readers with a burning need to know. (Graphic nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-297292-7

Page Count: 96

Publisher: HarperAlley

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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From the Astrid the Astronaut series , Vol. 1

An exuberant portrayal of a girl with hearing restrictions reaching for the stars.

Astrid, a spunky, smart California third grader, has great aspirations.

She will become “the first astronaut with hearing aids,” a possibility that is treated very naturally within this story, the first in a new chapter book series. Joining the Shooting Stars, an after-school club devoted to all things space, has long been part of Astrid’s “Astronomically Grand Plan.” Though Astrid wants to go to space camp, it’s expensive, but a scholarship is available for the Shooting Stars student who earns the most points for completing the STEM-oriented Astro Missions. She discovers another problem when she realizes that her best friend, Hallie, is more interested in art than in STEM and joins the Petite Picassos club. How can Astrid navigate Shooting Stars without her BFF, especially when she and her teammate Veejay don’t start out well? Club teacher Ms. Ruiz stresses creativity and partnership, and math and science enthusiasts will be attracted to this book, but the real emphasis is on relationships. Astrid must befriend Hallie again after voicing her disappointment with her interests and learn to be a good teammate. Astrid is likable, and her story, told in first person, realistically explores her hearing issues, her initial problem-solving failures, and her successes. Black-and-white illustrations depict Astrid (wearing her hearing aids) and her family as light-skinned, though other students appear to be racially diverse, and Hallie is cued as Asian.

An exuberant portrayal of a girl with hearing restrictions reaching for the stars. (Chapter book. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-8148-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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From the Ada Lace series , Vol. 1

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

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 23, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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