ICE WRECK

ROAD TO READING: MILE 4

The amazing Antarctic survival story of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew is the basis for this transitional chapter book. Shackleton and his crew of 27 were attempting to cross the continent of Antarctica in 1914, when their ship, the Endurance, became stuck in the ice. They stayed with the ship for seven months, camped on ice floes for five months, and then rowed in small lifeboats to a distant island. Their saga continued as Shackleton and four of the men continued on to another island to get help for the rest of the crew, and all the crew members survived the 18-month ordeal. Penner does a serviceable job of summarizing a complex story in brief chapters, with short sentences that convey the information with a sense of excitement and inherent danger. A few black-and-white photographs from the actual expedition are included (without captions), supplemented with LaFleur’s coordinating illustrations in icy blues and lavenders. Several books for young readers on the Shackleton saga have been published in the last few years, including two well-received volumes by Jennifer Armstrong and an easy reader in Random House’s Step into Reading series (Monica Kulling’s Sea of Ice: The Wreck of the Endurance, 1999). Still, kids do love disaster books, and this story has all the drawing power of a disaster without the unhappy ending (except for the poor sled dogs). (Easy reader/nonfiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: July 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-307-26408-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Golden Books/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2001

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IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT

A repressive teacher almost ruins second grade for a prodigy in this amusing, if overwritten, tale. Having shown a fascination with great buildings since constructing a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from used diapers at age two, Iggy sinks into boredom after Miss Greer announces, throwing an armload of histories and craft projects into the trash, that architecture will be a taboo subject in her class. Happily, she changes her views when the collapse of a footbridge leaves the picnicking class stranded on an island, whereupon Iggy enlists his mates to build a suspension bridge from string, rulers and fruit roll-ups. Familiar buildings and other structures, made with unusual materials or, on the closing pages, drawn on graph paper, decorate Roberts’s faintly retro cartoon illustrations. They add an audience-broadening element of sophistication—as would Beaty’s decision to cast the text into verse, if it did not result in such lines as “After twelve long days / that passed in a haze / of reading, writing and arithmetic, / Miss Greer took the class / to Blue River Pass / for a hike and an old-fashioned picnic.” Another John Lithgow she is not, nor is Iggy another Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000), but it’s always salutary to see young talent vindicated. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-1106-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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THE BEST CHEF IN SECOND GRADE

An impending school visit by a celebrity chef sends budding cook Ollie into a tailspin. He and his classmates are supposed to bring a favorite family food for show and tell, but his family doesn’t have a clear choice—besides, his little sister Rosy doesn’t like much of anything. What to do? As in their previous two visits to Room 75, Kenah builds suspense while keeping the tone light, and Carter adds both bright notes of color and familiar home and school settings in her cartoon illustrations. Eventually, Ollie winkles favorite ingredients out of his clan, which he combines into a mac-and-cheese casserole with a face on top that draws delighted praise from the class’s renowned guest. As Ollie seems to do his kitchen work without parental assistance, a cautionary tip or two (and maybe a recipe) might not have gone amiss here, but the episode’s mouthwatering climax and resolution will guarantee smiles of contentment all around. (Easy reader. 6-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-053561-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2007

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