Sure to inspire real-life experimentation.

LIBBY LOVES SCIENCE

From the Loves Science series

Science lover Libby works with classmates to run the science booth at the school festival in this companion to Derting and Johannes’ Cece books, illustrated by Vashti Harrison.

Libby is a black girl who loves experimenting, especially in the kitchen. At school, chemistry is right up her alley. When Mr. Darwin recruits students to run the science booth at the school fair, Libby works with Rosa and Finn to devise experiments that will be exciting enough to compete with the bouncy house. On the day of the festival, they decorate their booth artfully and set up their giant bubbles, slime ingredients, and rocketry supplies, but for a while they are overlooked. The trio manages to attract attention to their experiments, and soon they have a small crowd. Their booth doesn’t win the prize, but their class celebrates anyway with a fun and tasty chemistry experiment. Instructions for all of the science activities are included as notebook-page insets within the story spreads. The diverse characters (Rosa is brown skinned with puffy, red hair, and Finn looks Asian) are accessible and fun. Murray’s bright, cartoon illustrations, patterned after Harrison’s aesthetic, generate excitement around their adventures. While the one-note story falls a bit flat at the end, science lovers will be happy to continue collecting these titles, and the incorporation of well-loved activities like cooking and making slime just may convert science skeptics into science lovers too.

Sure to inspire real-life experimentation. (science facts) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-294604-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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DOG MAN

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 1

What do you get from sewing the head of a smart dog onto the body of a tough police officer? A new superhero from the incorrigible creator of Captain Underpants.

Finding a stack of old Dog Man comics that got them in trouble back in first grade, George and Harold decide to craft a set of new(ish) adventures with (more or less) improved art and spelling. These begin with an origin tale (“A Hero Is Unleashed”), go on to a fiendish attempt to replace the chief of police with a “Robo Chief” and then a temporarily successful scheme to make everyone stupid by erasing all the words from every book (“Book ’Em, Dog Man”), and finish off with a sort of attempted alien invasion evocatively titled “Weenie Wars: The Franks Awaken.” In each, Dog Man squares off against baddies (including superinventor/archnemesis Petey the cat) and saves the day with a clever notion. With occasional pauses for Flip-O-Rama featurettes, the tales are all framed in brightly colored sequential panels with hand-lettered dialogue (“How do you feel, old friend?” “Ruff!”) and narrative. The figures are studiously diverse, with police officers of both genders on view and George, the chief, and several other members of the supporting cast colored in various shades of brown. Pilkey closes as customary with drawing exercises, plus a promise that the canine crusader will be further unleashed in a sequel.

What a wag. (Graphic fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-58160-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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