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

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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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In spite of the book’s flaws, dragons are very appealing, and tales for young audiences that model the scientific method are...

DRAGONS AND MARSHMALLOWS

From the Zoey and Sassafras series , Vol. 1

Zoey discovers that she can see magical creatures that might need her help.

That’s a good thing because her mother has been caring for the various beasts since childhood, but now she’s leaving on a business trip so the work will fall to Zoey. Most people (like Zoey’s father) can’t see the magical creatures, so Zoey, who appears in illustrations to be black, will have to experiment with their care by problem-solving using the scientific method to determine appropriate treatment and feeding. When a tiny, sick dragon shows up on her doorstep, she runs an experiment and determines that marshmallows appear to be the proper food. Unfortunately, she hadn’t done enough research beforehand to understand that although dragons might like marshmallows, they might not be the best food for a sick, fire-breathing baby. Although the incorporation of important STEM behaviors is a plus, the exposition is mildly clunky, with little character development and stilted dialogue. Many pages are dense with large-print text, related in Zoey’s not especially childlike voice. However, the inclusion in each chapter of a couple of attractive black-and-white illustrations of round-faced people and Zoey’s mischievous cat helps break up the narrative.

In spite of the book’s flaws, dragons are very appealing, and tales for young audiences that model the scientific method are nice to see. (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943147-08-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: The Innovation Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 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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