A pivotal moment in a child’s life, handled with grace and sensitivity rather than conflict or ineffective lecturing.

THE DINOSAUR EXPERT

From the Mr. Tiffin's Classroom series

Timely intervention keeps a young science enthusiast’s career ambitions on the rails in this fourth outing for Mr. Tiffin’s class.

A born naturalist (“She even collected owl pellets. And she took them apart”), Kimmy eagerly shares her knowledge about dinosaurs and fossils on a trip to the museum—until she’s silenced by classmate Jake’s disparaging remark that “girls aren’t scientists.” No sooner does her perspicacious teacher spot her sudden change, though, than he leads her to a specimen of Gasparinisauria, a dinosaur named, she reads, in honor of paleontologist Zulma Nélida Brandoni de Gasparini. Even Jake admits that that is “awesome,” and for the rest of the visit Kimmy becomes a positive fount of information about raptor toes, Stegosaurus brains, and other dinosaur lore. “When I grow up,” Kimmy declares, “I want to be just like her.” Mr. Tiffin’s “I think you already are,” cements the teachable moment. Kimmy, her teacher, and Jake are white, but along with capturing his characters’ changing moods and responses with artfully angled faces and other body language, Karas portrays the rest of the class with diverse features and skin tones. A gallery of women paleontologists of the past and present makes an apt closer.

A pivotal moment in a child’s life, handled with grace and sensitivity rather than conflict or ineffective lecturing. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-51143-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so...

TOUCH THE EARTH

From the Julian Lennon White Feather Flier Adventure series , Vol. 1

A pro bono Twinkie of a book invites readers to fly off in a magic plane to bring clean water to our planet’s oceans, deserts, and brown children.

Following a confusingly phrased suggestion beneath a soft-focus world map to “touch the Earth. Now touch where you live,” a shake of the volume transforms it into a plane with eyes and feathered wings that flies with the press of a flat, gray “button” painted onto the page. Pressing like buttons along the journey releases a gush of fresh water from the ground—and later, illogically, provides a filtration device that changes water “from yucky to clean”—for thirsty groups of smiling, brown-skinned people. At other stops, a tap on the button will “help irrigate the desert,” and touching floating bottles and other debris in the ocean supposedly makes it all disappear so the fish can return. The 20 children Coh places on a globe toward the end are varied of skin tone, but three of the four young saviors she plants in the flier’s cockpit as audience stand-ins are white. The closing poem isn’t so openly parochial, though it seldom rises above vague feel-good sentiments: “Love the Earth, the moon and sun. / All the children can be one.”

“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so easy to clean the place up and give everyone a drink? (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-2083-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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Adventure, humor, and smart, likable characters make for a winning chapter book.

ADA TWIST AND THE PERILOUS PANTS

From the Questioneers series , Vol. 2

Ada Twist’s incessant stream of questions leads to answers that help solve a neighborhood crisis.

Ada conducts experiments at home to answer questions such as, why does Mom’s coffee smell stronger than Dad’s coffee? Each answer leads to another question, another hypothesis, and another experiment, which is how she goes from collecting data on backyard birds for a citizen-science project to helping Rosie Revere figure out how to get her uncle Ned down from the sky, where his helium-filled “perilous pants” are keeping him afloat. The Questioneers—Rosie the engineer, Iggy Peck the architect, and Ada the scientist—work together, asking questions like scientists. Armed with knowledge (of molecules and air pressure, force and temperature) but more importantly, with curiosity, Ada works out a solution. Ada is a recognizable, three-dimensional girl in this delightfully silly chapter book: tirelessly curious and determined yet easily excited and still learning to express herself. If science concepts aren’t completely clear in this romp, relationships and emotions certainly are. In playful full- and half-page illustrations that break up the text, Ada is black with Afro-textured hair; Rosie and Iggy are white. A closing section on citizen science may inspire readers to get involved in science too; on the other hand, the “Ode to a Gas!” may just puzzle them. Other backmatter topics include the importance of bird study and the threat palm-oil use poses to rainforests.

Adventure, humor, and smart, likable characters make for a winning chapter book. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3422-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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