Smart girls, friendship, and fun: a winning combination.

CECE LOVES SCIENCE AND ADVENTURE

From the Cece Loves Science series

Cece uses her science skills at camp with her friends.

Cece is excited for her Adventure Girls camping trip, where, with her mother as group leader, she’ll be able to explore science in nature with her friends Daisy and Caroline. As a scout and as a scientist, she uses checklists to pack and be prepared. At camp, the girls work together to set up their tent; a series of illustrations shows how. When they go on a hike, Cece takes pictures of landmarks to track their route. When the sky grows dark, Cece uses her knowledge of types of clouds and the timing between thunder and lightning to figure out how far away the storm is. When her mom’s GPS stops working, Cece recommends using her pictures to make a map back to the campsite. With some clever improvisation, they make a shelter to stay dry and then find their way back to camp. For their problem-solving and science, the girls earn more than just the camping badge. (One wonders how prepared the leader was, but no matter; Cece to the rescue!) The bright, animation-style illustrations depict fluffy-haired Cece and her straight-haired mother; Daisy sports braids and a darker skin tone, and Caroline appears Asian. (Cece’s white dad, introduced in Cece Loves Science, 2018, stays at home in this outing.) Cece’s checklists and notes are interspersed throughout, Magic Schoolbus–style, and an endnote defines science terms.

Smart girls, friendship, and fun: a winning combination. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-249962-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Deliberately inspirational and tinged with nostalgia, this will please fans but may strike others as overly idealistic.

STICKS AND STONES

Veteran picture-book creator Polacco tells another story from her childhood that celebrates the importance of staying true to one’s own interests and values.

After years of spending summers with her father and grandmother, narrator Trisha is excited to be spending the school year in Michigan with them. Unexpectedly abandoned by her summertime friends, Trisha quickly connects with fellow outsiders Thom and Ravanne, who may be familiar to readers from Polacco’s The Junkyard Wonders (2010). Throughout the school year, the three enjoy activities together and do their best to avoid school bully Billy. While a physical confrontation between Thom (aka “Sissy Boy”) and Billy does come, so does an opportunity for Thom to defy convention and share his talent with the community. Loosely sketched watercolor illustrations place the story in the middle of the last century, with somewhat old-fashioned clothing and an apparently all-White community. Trisha and her classmates appear to be what today would be called middle schoolers; a reference to something Trisha and her mom did when she was “only eight” suggests that several years have passed since that time. As usual, the lengthy first-person narrative is cozily conversational but includes some challenging vocabulary (textiles, lackeys, foretold). The author’s note provides a brief update about her friends’ careers and encourages readers to embrace their own differences. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Deliberately inspirational and tinged with nostalgia, this will please fans but may strike others as overly idealistic. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2622-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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A lighthearted read that will offer comfort to young children that others too face challenges of friendship, teamwork and...

PARKER BELL AND THE SCIENCE OF FRIENDSHIP

In her debut chapter book, Platt shares the story of a young girl navigating friendships and the challenges of trying to win her school’s science triathlon.

Young Parker Bell is a curious child who loves science and aspires to match up to Mae Jemison and Jane Goodall one day. Her best friend and partner in science is coding whiz Cassie Malouf. They have been best friends since kindergarten, but Parker gets jealous when Cassie suddenly starts becoming friendly with Theo Zachary, a shy boy in their class. Parker worries that Cassie likes Theo more than her, and she fights hard to keep her friend. Matters only get worse when Cassie invites Theo to be part of their team for the science triathlon, which features a science trivia contest, an egg drop, and a presentation. In a somewhat predictable plot, Parker realizes she has a lot in common with Theo as she spends more time with him. Platt works hard to defy gender stereotypes. In addition to the girls’ STEM enthusiasm, Parker’s mom teaches phys ed, her dad owns a bakery, and Cassie’s mom teaches math. Zhai’s simple black-and-white illustrations of Parker, Cassie, and the classrooms provide a good visual aid to the story, depicting Parker and Theo as white and Cassie with dark skin and long black hair.

A lighthearted read that will offer comfort to young children that others too face challenges of friendship, teamwork and competition. (Fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-97347-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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