Intriguing premise + themes with wings + a light hand on the rudder = a flying start.

READ REVIEW

THE TINY GENIUSES FLY TO THE RESCUE

From the Tiny Geniuses series , Vol. 1

With a little help from some little friends—namely, Amelia Earhart and Sir Isaac Newton—a failing fourth-grader scores a science fair triumph.

Mom insists that Jake do well in the upcoming expo or quit baseball—so when his equally desperate wishes that someone do his project for him bring two figurines in his “Heroes of History” set to life, he thinks his problems are over. Unfortunately they’re only just beginning, as both of his tiny advisers turn out to be so wrapped up in delighted explorations of the wonders of Jake’s bedroom and the world beyond that he spends most of his time and energy just trying (with mixed success) to keep them secret. In the meantime, though, their courage, curiosity, and enthusiasm for tinkering turn out to be so infectious that when they do present Jake with a small working airplane and notes on the principles of flight, he decides that it would be better to do his own work—and does. Along with digestible bits of history and Newtonian physics, Bryant infuses the tale with comical incidents while showing that Jake’s gloomy conviction that he’s “too dumb” to succeed is demonstrably wrong. Jake is depicted on the cover as white (along with Earhart and Newton); the cast otherwise seems to adhere to a white default.

Intriguing premise + themes with wings + a light hand on the rudder = a flying start. (Fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-545-90951-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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A fun-if-flimsy vehicle for science lovers.

DRAGONS VS. UNICORNS

From the Kate the Chemist series

A fifth grade girl brings her love of chemistry to the school play.

Kate loves science so much she’s determined to breathe fire. Of course she knows that she needs adult supervision, and so, with her science teacher’s help, Kate demonstrates an experiment with cornstarch and a blowtorch that nearly sets her teacher’s cactus on fire. Consequences ensue. Can someone who loves science as much as Kate does find pleasure spending her fall break at drama camp? It turns out that even the school play—Dragons vs. Unicorns—needs a chemist, though, and Kate saves the day with glue and glitter. She’s sabotaged along the way, but everything is fine after Kate and her frenemy agree to communicate better (an underwhelming response to escalating bullying). Doodles decorate the pages; steps for the one experiment described that can be done at home—making glittery unicorn-horn glue—are included. The most exciting experiments depicted, though, include flames or liquid nitrogen and could only be done with the help of a friendly science teacher. Biberdorf teaches chemistry at the University of Texas and also performs science-education programs as “Kate the Chemist”; in addition to giving her protagonist her name and enthusiasm, she also seems represented in Kate-the-character’s love of the fictional YouTube personality “Dr. Caroline.” Kate and her nemesis are white; Kate’s best friends are black and South Asian.

A fun-if-flimsy vehicle for science lovers. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11655-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet!

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are Black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its Black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows Black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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