THE GHOULS' GUIDE TO GOOD GRAMMAR

A scarily fun addition to the reference shelf.

Monsters, witches, and zombies add importance to the grammar and spelling rules in this guide.

Starting with end-of-sentence punctuation, the rules are straightforward, and the example is a soft punchline: A monster asks a group of trembling human children, “What’s shaking?” to demonstrate the use of a question mark. The examples get more interesting as different versions of sentences are compared, with their meanings changed by variations in punctuation and spelling choices. A human child says, “Time to eat, Sylvester” to a cat, but a monster says, “Time to eat Sylvester.” Commas, contractions, capitalization, word pairs like than/then, and homophones that fit the theme (hair-raising versus hare-raising) all get straightforward explanations along with illustrated examples. Sections are clearly marked with yellow titles on black banners for easy skimming, and comparisons are laid out in side-by-side panels with speech and thought bubbles. The words being taught are printed in red. The colorful, cartoon illustrations are gross and humorous enough to hold children’s attention over multiple readings as the grammar and spelling rules sink in. The power of grammar and spelling to turn loved ones into meals conveys the importance of detail in proper writing; the playful touches of the ghoul theme make these rules more memorable than the standard textbook guide can. The human characters are racially diverse. A ghoul grammar quiz at the end tests readers’ memories of the rules.

A scarily fun addition to the reference shelf. (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5341-1095-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

A WORLD TOGETHER

Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants.

Large color photographs (occasionally composed of montages) and accessible, simple text highlight global similarities and differences, always focusing on our universal connections.

While child readers may not recognize Manzano, the Puerto Rican actress who played Maria on Sesame Street, adults will recognize her as a trusted diverse voice. In her endnote, she explains her desire to “encourage lively conversations about shared experiences.” Starting out with the familiar, home and community, the text begins with “How many WONDERFUL PEOPLE do you know?” Then it moves out to the world: “Did you know there are about 8 BILLION PEOPLE on the planet?” The photo essay features the usual concrete similarities and differences found in many books of this type, such as housing (a Mongolian yurt opposite a Hong Kong apartment building overlooking a basketball court), food (dumplings, pizza, cotton candy, a churro, etc.), and school. Manzano also makes sure to point out likenesses in emotions, as shown in a montage of photos from countries including China, Spain, Kashmir (Pakistan/India), and the United States. At the end, a world map and thumbnail images show the locations of all photos, revealing a preponderance of examples from the U.S. and a slight underrepresentation for Africa and South America.

Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3738-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

THE BRAIN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness.

An introduction to the lead guitar and vocalist for the Brainiacs—the human brain.

The brain (familiar to readers of Seluk’s “The Awkward Yeti” webcomic, which spun off the adult title Heart and Brain, 2015) looks like a dodgeball with arms and legs—pinkish, sturdy, and roundish, with a pair of square-framed spectacles bestowing an air of importance and hipness. Other organs of the body—tongue, lungs, stomach, muscle, and heart—are featured as members of the brain’s rock band (the verso of the dust jacket is a poster of the band). Seluk’s breezy, conversational prose and brightly colored, boldly outlined cartoon illustrations deliver basic information. The brain’s role in keeping the heart beating and other automatic functions, directing body movements, interpreting sights and sounds, remembering smells and tastes, and regulating sleep and hunger are all explained, prose augmented by dialogue balloons and information sidebars. Seluk points out, importantly, that feelings originate in the brain: “You can control how you react…but your feelings happen no matter what.” The parodied album covers on the front endpapers (including the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Green Day, Run DMC, Queen, Nirvana) will amuse parents—or at least grandparents—and the rear endpapers serve up band members’ clever social media and texting screenshots. Backmatter includes a glossary and further brain trivia but no resources or bibliography.

A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-16700-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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