A fun, whimsically illustrated book about space exploration that’s definitely worth adding to classroom and school libraries.

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RIKKI & THE ROCKET TWINS DISCOVER THE SOLAR SYSTEM

From the Rikki & the Rocket Twins series , Vol. 1

A young astronaut and her toy friends go on a dream-time adventure in this children’s tale by debut author Burney with illustrations by De La Roche and Williams Sticka.

Rikki is a pale-skinned girl with pigtails who wears pink and carries a toy rocket ship—a wonderful story setup that shows young readers that there’s no contradiction between liking things that are typically girl-assigned and liking science. The youngster, like most good child-scientists, is always asking questions about why the world is the way it is. At night, Rikki and her mother, who’s darker-skinned with curly hair, pretend to fly her rocket to outer space. Mommy brings out Rikki’s toys, the Rocket Twins, to liven up the game. When it’s time for sleep, the girl and the twins travel through the solar system, voyaging from the sun all the way to dwarf planets Pluto and Eris. Each spread has a similar format: the twins are shown doing something silly (such as baking pizza on the moon, roller-skating on Saturn’s bumpy rings, or flying a kite on freezing, windy Neptune), while the text offers general information about the planet, as well as a sidebar with a question from Rikki. There are also text boxes with facts from the Rocket Twins and great illustrations that highlight where each planet is in the planetary order. Parents who miss Pluto being included in books on the solar system will rejoice to see that its dwarf planet categorization doesn’t keep it out of this book. There are occasional moments of rhyme (“Every time she looks up at the sky, her mind is filled with questions of why?”) that stand out amid the largely non-rhyming text. Overall, budding astronomers and astronauts will find the vocabulary to be approachable, and the book’s presentation of a mixed-race family is overwhelmingly positive.

A fun, whimsically illustrated book about space exploration that’s definitely worth adding to classroom and school libraries.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9982317-0-9

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Change3 Enterprises

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2017

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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LAST DAY BLUES

From the Mrs. Hartwell's Classroom Adventures series

One more myth dispelled for all the students who believe that their teachers live in their classrooms. During the last week of school, Mrs. Hartwell and her students reflect on the things they will miss, while also looking forward to the fun that summer will bring. The kids want to cheer up their teacher, whom they imagine will be crying over lesson plans and missing them all summer long. But what gift will cheer her up? Numerous ideas are rejected, until Eddie comes up with the perfect plan. They all cooperate to create a rhyming ode to the school year and their teacher. Love’s renderings of the children are realistic, portraying the diversity of modern-day classrooms, from dress and expression to gender and skin color. She perfectly captures the emotional trauma the students imagine their teachers will go through as they leave for the summer. Her final illustration hysterically shatters that myth, and will have every teacher cheering aloud. What a perfect end to the school year. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58089-046-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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