Infectiously enthusiastic but more elementary of look than content, with a hard-to-determine audience.

MESMERIZING MATH

This lightning-quick overview of select mathematical topics doesn’t add up to anything useful.

The jumbles of cartoon images—many with flaps or, less often, a spinner or other add-on—begin on a hard-to-follow contents map. They then continue in successive single spreads to illustrate surveys of numbers, geometry, probability, mathematical transformations, measurement, statistics and numerical sequences. Skipping such basics as addition and subtraction, Litton immediately plunges into squares and square roots, primes and powers, negative numbers, triangular numbers, zero, infinity, fractions, percentages and decimals in a dizzying whirl that will quickly leave math tyros behind. On the other hand, even budding math geeks won’t bring much away from his simplistic claim that “[m]ost numbers can be broken down into smaller numbers called factors” or a description of decimal places without clear examples. The discourse is likewise overcompressed on subsequent pages, ending with an array of sequences ranging from Fibonacci numbers and Pascal’s triangle to how many times a 16-square length of toilet paper can be folded in half. That isn’t the only case of mission creep, as glances elsewhere at optical illusions and at the hazards of slanted survey questions demonstrate. Furthermore, two punch-out models make this problematic for libraries.

Infectiously enthusiastic but more elementary of look than content, with a hard-to-determine audience. (Informational pop-up. 8-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6881-5

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.

WAYSIDE SCHOOL BENEATH THE CLOUD OF DOOM

Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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This revenger’s comedy, dotted with references to classic plays and philosophical concepts, will be a joy for pranksters and...

THE TERRIBLE TWO GET WORSE

From the Terrible Two series , Vol. 2

When pranking perfection meets the seemingly unprankable foe, who gets the last laugh?

Terrible Two Niles and Miles have been merrily pranking their favorite targets, Principal Barkin and his dim, loathsome son Josh, at school and in town all autumn long. Fed up with the plague of pranks, former Principal Barkin (father of the current one) stages a coup d’état at a school board meeting and takes back his old job. This new-old Principal Barkin is draconian in his control of the school. He hangs a sign counting the days since the last prank…which, since he avows there is no prank if no one reacts (and he never reacts), means there have been no pranks. Miles and Niles despair as one after another of their complex, devious plots are ignored. School becomes unbearable until they seek help from a most unlikely source. Can three succeed where two have failed? John and Barnett’s sophomore effort is as much fun as series opener The Terrible Two (2015). The boys’ history as rivals and their home lives barely receive mention here, so the first volume is a must-read—no hardship. Cornell’s line drawings add to the goofy, deadpan experience.

This revenger’s comedy, dotted with references to classic plays and philosophical concepts, will be a joy for pranksters and seekers of a good-hearted laugh. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1680-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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