Information and entertainment in an appealing comic format.

READ REVIEW

THE OCEAN DISASTER

From the Mad Scientist Academy series

Dr. Cosmic takes his students on an underwater adventure using a specially designed underwater vehicle he calls a SKWID.

McElligott explores the ocean depths in this fourth title in the Mad Scientist Academy series, STEM-friendly science fantasies reminiscent of Ms. Frizzle’s Magic School Bus trips but with less text and a more modern approach. Sequential panels and occasional full-page illustrations, done with ink, pencil, and digital techniques, show red-haired, green-skinned Dr. Cosmic and his species-diverse students: a robot with pageboy hair, a bat-winged vampire, a zombie, a wolflike creature, something reptilian, and something faintly insectoid, characters first introduced in The Dinosaur Disaster (2015). His new assistant, Professor Fathom, is a dark-skinned mermaid with long black hair. Using student questions and an intriguing gadget they call a handbook that unfolds to offer encyclopedialike fast facts and interesting details, the author smoothly weaves solid information into his narrative. He describes sonar and echolocation; how animals get oxygen; food energy, producers and consumers, and the food web; phyto- and zooplankton; toothed and baleen whales; sperm whales and squid. There’s even a reminder of the need for a clean-energy source for their vehicle: Its biofuel is made from seaweed. All these concepts become part of the story, making this tale a surprisingly well-constructed teaching vehicle. Endpaper sketches detail Dr. Cosmic’s latest inventions.

Information and entertainment in an appealing comic format. (more ocean organisms) (Graphic science fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6719-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

“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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more