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

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. 22, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013


Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock”...

The theme of persistence (for better or worse) links four tales of magic, trickery, and near disasters.

Lachenmeyer freely borrows familiar folkloric elements, subjecting them to mildly comical twists. In the nearly wordless “Hip Hop Wish,” a frog inadvertently rubs a magic lamp and finds itself saddled with an importunate genie eager to shower it with inappropriate goods and riches. In the title tale, an increasingly annoyed music-hating witch transforms a persistent minstrel into a still-warbling cow, horse, sheep, goat, pig, duck, and rock in succession—then is horrified to catch herself humming a tune. Athesius the sorcerer outwits Warthius, a rival trying to steal his spells via a parrot, by casting silly ones in Ig-pay Atin-lay in the third episode, and in the finale, a painter’s repeated efforts to create a flattering portrait of an ogre king nearly get him thrown into a dungeon…until he suddenly understands what an ogre’s idea of “flattering” might be. The narratives, dialogue, and sound effects leave plenty of elbow room in Blocker’s big, brightly colored panels for the expressive animal and human(ish) figures—most of the latter being light skinned except for the golden genie, the blue ogre, and several people of color in the “Sorcerer’s New Pet.”

Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock” music. (Graphic short stories. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59643-750-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019


Come for the mystery, stay for the backmatter.

This gentle, fast-paced mystery will hook readers with interesting details.

Julieta Leal, 9, is a magnet for disasters. She has a reputation at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, where both her parents work, for making trouble. Julieta is just trying to help, and it’s not her fault that sometimes things get broken or she has a hard time following the rules. When Julieta’s dad invites her along on a trip to Paris regarding the loan of some pieces from the Louvre, she jumps at the chance to add another purple pin to her family’s world-travel map. She promises to be helpful and stay out of trouble and desperately wants to shed her reputation of being a liability. This proves difficult when the dazzling Regent Diamond is stolen and Julieta and her dad are implicated in the theft. With her dad’s job in peril and the prized gem missing, Julieta must rely on her keen observations and tenacity to clear their names. Detailed descriptions of Paris landmarks and factual information about museum pieces are woven naturally into the fast-moving plot so that readers come away with knowledge of these topics alongside a satisfying story. Several pages of backmatter notes bolster the learning. The endearing Julieta is bilingual, and she and her family are Mexican American.

Come for the mystery, stay for the backmatter. (glossaries) (Mystery. 8-11)

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64379-046-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Tu Books

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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