Like triumphant Mr. Bing, Keller walks off with a “Stiffy Stu McShiny” award for this yummy chapter-book series opener.

BOWLING ALLEY BANDIT

From the Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut series , Vol. 1

A bowling tournament gives the rolling raconteur introduced in the 2003 picture book Arnie the Doughnut fresh scope for wisecracks and wild misadventures.

Arnie goes to the bowling alley weekly to meet his cheesy triangular friend Peezo and belt out hits (from “Livin’ la vi-DOUGH loca!” to “DOUGHNUT make my brown eyes blue”) at the karaoke machine for admiring crowds while his (human) buddy Mr. Bing hits the lanes. Their visits slide into a scurry of sleuthing when Mr. Bing’s new ball, Betsy, inexplicably starts heading for the gutter rather than the pins on every roll. Presented in a frenetic mix of narrative, cartoon collages, dialogue balloons and melodramatic exclamations, the investigation leads the chocolate-frosted shamus to an identity thief at the end of a trail of dropped sprinkles and other clues. Unsurprisingly, it also provides opportunities aplenty to drop punch lines as well as to lay out bowling techniques and rules with help from a confused baseball umpire (“Ya see, Ump, in baseball strikes are BAD, but in bowling they’re GOOD!”), Albert Einstein and other walk-ons.

Like triumphant Mr. Bing, Keller walks off with a “Stiffy Stu McShiny” award for this yummy chapter-book series opener. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-10)

Pub Date: June 11, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9076-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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This may spark a few imaginations, but its lack of directions and the difficulty level of most of the projects—not to...

WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH ONLY ONE SHOE?

REUSE, RECYCLE, REINVENT

Readers learn how to “Reuse, Recycle, Reinvent” what some might call trash into treasures.  

Rhyming poems each introduce a single way to reuse/reinvent something: A toilet becomes a planter, the titular shoe morphs into a birdhouse, a (very large, nonstandard) light bulb houses a fish, and favorite jeans that are holey? They become a new purse. The most creative has to be a table supported by a pitchfork: “If you’re wanting to picnic on uneven ground, / where your table’s unstable or up on a mound, / stop and think! Be creative! The answer’s around.” While cans, wood and wire are both easily found and transformed into musical instruments, not all these projects use such common materials or are as simple to complete: Half of a boat turns into a covered bench, a car becomes a bed, and a grocery cart transforms into a chair. And although it’s neat to see a farmer’s new watering trough (an enormous tire) and a community’s new playground (an old ambulance anchors it), these are not projects that are likely to fire readers up to do similar things. Cartoon spot illustrations share space with photographs of the new inventions, and both are needed to make sense of the poems.

This may spark a few imaginations, but its lack of directions and the difficulty level of most of the projects—not to mention its failure to impart reasons for reducing, reusing and recycling—make this one to skip. (Poetry. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55451-642-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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If this book were a pizza, young readers would gobble down every slice—and demand more for dessert.

IF

A MIND-BENDING NEW WAY OF LOOKING AT BIG IDEAS AND NUMBERS

Continuing his exploration of the mind-expanding possibilities of scale modeling, Smith extends the premise of If America Were a Village (2009) to encompass life, time and the universe.

Following a well-taken note that his comparisons are mostly approximations, the author proposes thinking of Earth’s life span as a month, all wealth as 100 coins and 14 similar transformations designed to make incomprehensibly huge numbers or measurements at least theoretically graspable. The trick doesn’t always work (“If the Milky Way galaxy were shrunk to the size of a dinner plate...,” the visible universe “would be about the size of Belgium”), but it does offer readers a chance to think of time, for instance, in terms of days or minutes instead of millions of years. Better yet, Adams’ painted infographics offer literal visualizations of the planets as balls of different sizes, of where inventions from fire to smartphones would lie relative to one another along a ruler or tape measure, and how many “slices” of our life are consumed in sleeping—if our life were a pizza. In a closing note addressed to adults, the author suggests further scaling and numeracy-building exercises.

If this book were a pizza, young readers would gobble down every slice—and demand more for dessert. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-894786-34-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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