With outlandish situations rendering scientific concepts memorable, McElligott has concocted a winning formula for learning...

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THE WEATHER DISASTER

From the Mad Scientist Academy series

Having survived disastrous dinosaurs in the first series installment, students at the Mad Scientist Academy now attempt to comprehend the mystery of weather.

Six students make up the class assembled outside the laboratory: an amphibious creature, a werewolf, a robot, a vampire, a giant insect, and a monster resembling Frankenstein’s. Dr. Cosmic, whose flaming red hair recalls another cartoon scientist beloved by children, is ensconced in a wearable weather balloon, ready to test its efficacy. His colleague, meteorologist Nimbus, works the controls. As the sphere spins into the atmosphere, readers follow his progress and study charts to learn how clouds form and what causes wind, rain, and snow. Sequential panels move the plot forward and present information, while double-page spreads portray climactic moments, such as when the students try to apply what they have learned to correct the flood in the greenhouse and the snowstorm in the pool house by creating a tornado with the CHAOS machine. (The rear endpapers spell it out: Cooling/Heating Airflow Operating System.) Characters use their particular attributes to solve problems and help one another. Adults will appreciate the knowledge imparted in this STEM-friendly series as well as the encouragement to question, measure, and experiment; children will be attracted to the appealing caricatures and the cyclone wreaking havoc on the cover.

With outlandish situations rendering scientific concepts memorable, McElligott has concocted a winning formula for learning as entertainment. (backmatter) (Graphic science fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-52376-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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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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“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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