A fun-if-flimsy vehicle for science lovers.

READ REVIEW

DRAGONS VS. UNICORNS

From the Kate the Chemist series

A fifth grade girl brings her love of chemistry to the school play.

Kate loves science so much she’s determined to breathe fire. Of course she knows that she needs adult supervision, and so, with her science teacher’s help, Kate demonstrates an experiment with cornstarch and a blowtorch that nearly sets her teacher’s cactus on fire. Consequences ensue. Can someone who loves science as much as Kate does find pleasure spending her fall break at drama camp? It turns out that even the school play—Dragons vs. Unicorns—needs a chemist, though, and Kate saves the day with glue and glitter. She’s sabotaged along the way, but everything is fine after Kate and her frenemy agree to communicate better (an underwhelming response to escalating bullying). Doodles decorate the pages; steps for the one experiment described that can be done at home—making glittery unicorn-horn glue—are included. The most exciting experiments depicted, though, include flames or liquid nitrogen and could only be done with the help of a friendly science teacher. Biberdorf teaches chemistry at the University of Texas and also performs science-education programs as “Kate the Chemist”; in addition to giving her protagonist her name and enthusiasm, she also seems represented in Kate-the-character’s love of the fictional YouTube personality “Dr. Caroline.” Kate and her nemesis are white; Kate’s best friends are black and South Asian.

A fun-if-flimsy vehicle for science lovers. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11655-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A solid purchase for those seeking fresh tales with a classic feel or a broader world-lit collection.

BICYCLING TO THE MOON

Can a cat and a dog be best friends? Purdy and Barker make it work.

The duo lives in a sky-blue house on top of a hill near their friends Henny Cluckington, Daisy Butterfield, and Connie Quackstrom, among others. Purdy’s a free spirit always in search of something new and coming up with schemes, while Barker is a no-nonsense pooch who enjoys the simple pleasures of gardening, working around the house, and doing nice things for his best friend. When Purdy decides he’s a great singer and practices—ear-splittingly—all day long, Barker, true friend, encourages him. When Purdy’s yowl at the talent contest scares away the audience, Barker, the contest judge, sticks it out (though he does not award his bestie the prize). When Barker’s prize tomato goes missing, Purdy’s thoughtlessness causes a great tomato fight…but they end up making delicious tomato sauce and having friends over for dinner. Through a year of adventures (and some disagreements), this unlikely pair remains the best of friends. Finn Parvela tells 20 stories in 20 chapters in wry, straightforward prose translated by Urbom. Complex characters, by turns witty and foolish, will charm readers and listeners alike; Talvitie’s smudgy-lined full-color illustrations complete the package.

A solid purchase for those seeking fresh tales with a classic feel or a broader world-lit collection. (Animal fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-776570-31-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Gecko Press

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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A rare glimpse of childhood in a vanished world: Soviet-dominated, rural Poland.

CLEMENTINE LOVES RED

Vacationing children endure a thunderstorm in a dark forest, lose and find one another, and join an assortment of characters seeking the mysterious Clementine, who’s vanished in the woods.

After smuggling Macadamia, the small girl who lost Clementine, into their room, Mark, Annie, and Pudding head into the night. Soon fellow vacationers Eddie and Freddie, whom Mark has enlisted to stay with Macadamia, answer the call to adventure. Nearby, while his policeman dad alerts Constable Podger to the missing Clementine, Teddy—a Sherlock Holmes fan—sneaks out with his dog, Pickles, to search. As the thunderstorm reaches the woods, a tired journalist on his way to visit a friend suffers car trouble; the children are separated; and a falling tree mangles Podger’s motorbike. Throughout the ensuing muddy mayhem, Clementine proves elusive. Originally published in 1970 in Poland, the story shows its age, and the translators’ awkward efforts to update the dialogue don’t help. Children play “Red Indians,” and chubby Derek’s known as “Pudding” in this very English-feeling translation. Still, on balance strengths outweigh weaknesses. Butenko’s playful, humorous illustrations reflect Poland’s tradition of outstanding art for children. The setting is another highlight. The forest’s enduring majesty looms in powerful contrast over the scurrying characters engrossed in their worries and plans. The village of Saint Jude’s—where shoes are for indoors, kids adore mushrooms, and dessert’s a once-a-week treat—will feel exotic to young American readers.

A rare glimpse of childhood in a vanished world: Soviet-dominated, rural Poland. (Historical fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-78269-118-1

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Pushkin Press

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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