For high drama, look elsewhere—but a diverse cast and contemporary setting set this book apart from other volcano books.

READ REVIEW

PUANANI AND THE VOLCANO

After the 2018 eruption of the Kilauea volcano, a young girl organizes a beach cleanup in this debut illustrated chapter book for kids ages 5 to 8.

Puanani, a brown-skinned Hawaiian elementary schooler who loves turtles, is feeling nervous about giving a science presentation to her class. Then a mysterious earthquake interrupts the day’s lessons. After the students emerge from under their desks, school ends for the day. Puanani and her brother, Kua, learn from the night’s news reports that Kilauea is erupting and sending lava into the sea. Both of them are afraid until their parents talk with them about how to stay safe if another earthquake strikes. Puanani gives her science presentation without a hitch the next day, but she’s sad when a park ranger at Volcano Park later tells her that Kilauea’s lava kills sea life, including the turtles she loves, as it spills into the sea. She’s also unhappy to hear that people cause more harm to the sea than volcanoes—she wants turtles and other creatures to have “a clean place to live”—and sees refuse like fish hooks and partial fishnets along a shoreline that she and her family visit. Puanani begins to pick up trash and eventually gets help from her parents and a hui wa’a (canoe club) after she plucks up the nerve to speak to its board. Very little conflict occurs in the book’s 11 quick chapters; while Puanani is afraid of public speaking, she prepares copiously and encounters no significant difficulties in the moment. Young readers interested in sea life and volcanic activity will appreciate paragraphs detailing lava flow, and others may enjoy learning the italicized Hawaiian words that occur throughout the text and are defined in a box at the beginning of each short chapter. Bright, full-color illustrations depict key scenes; most adults and children are shown with different shades of brown skin and dark hair.

For high drama, look elsewhere—but a diverse cast and contemporary setting set this book apart from other volcano books. (glossary, discussion questions)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-949711-05-9

Page Count: 68

Publisher: Bluewater Publications

Review Posted Online: March 22, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education.

IF I BUILT A SCHOOL

A young visionary describes his ideal school: “Perfectly planned and impeccably clean. / On a scale, 1 to 10, it’s more like 15!”

In keeping with the self-indulgently fanciful lines of If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012), young Jack outlines in Seussian rhyme a shiny, bright, futuristic facility in which students are swept to open-roofed classes in clear tubes, there are no tests but lots of field trips, and art, music, and science are afterthoughts next to the huge and awesome gym, playground, and lunchroom. A robot and lots of cute puppies (including one in a wheeled cart) greet students at the door, robotically made-to-order lunches range from “PB & jelly to squid, lightly seared,” and the library’s books are all animated popups rather than the “everyday regular” sorts. There are no guards to be seen in the spacious hallways—hardly any adults at all, come to that—and the sparse coed student body features light- and dark-skinned figures in roughly equal numbers, a few with Asian features, and one in a wheelchair. Aside from the lack of restrooms, it seems an idyllic environment—at least for dog-loving children who prefer sports and play over quieter pursuits.

An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55291-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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In contrast to the carbs and desserts pictured, though sweet, this is unlikely to stick with readers.

BAGEL IN LOVE

A romance for carb (and pun!) lovers who dance to their own drummers and don’t give up on their dreams.

Bagel is a guy who loves to dance; when he’s tapping and twirling, he doesn’t feel plain. The problem is, he can’t find a partner for the Cherry Jubilee Dance Contest. Poppy says his steps are half-baked. Pretzel, “who was at the spa getting a salt rub…told him his moves didn’t cut the mustard.” He strikes out in Sweet City, too, with Croissant, Doughnut, and Cake. But just when he’s given up, he hears the music from the contest and can’t help moving his feet. And an echoing tap comes back to him. Could it be a partner at last? Yep, and she just happens to smell sweet and have frosting piled high. Bagel and Cupcake crush the contest, but winning the trophy? That “was just icing on the cake,” as the final sentence reads, the two standing proudly with a blue ribbon and trophy, hearts filling the space above and between them. Dardik’s digital illustrations are pastel confections. Sometimes just the characters’ heads are the treats, and other times the whole body is the foodstuff, with tiny arms and legs added on. Even the buildings are like something from “Hansel and Gretel.” However, this pun-filled narrative is just one of many of its ilk, good for a few yuks but without much staying power.

In contrast to the carbs and desserts pictured, though sweet, this is unlikely to stick with readers. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2239-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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