How many readers who make it through would go back for a second go-round? Hmm.

READ REVIEW

MIND-BOGGLING NUMBERS

It is not so much that the numbers boggle as that they simply fly by.

Great-sized numbers are undeniably awesome—like the digits in pi—but they are also undeniably abstract. Yes, it is fun to grind the brain cogs for a bit, but the game soon cools. Rosen does try very hard here to keep it real: all kid characters are 4 feet tall and weigh 60 pounds to make for a standard unit of measurement, and he puts them in settings that at least some readers can relate to: mowing the yard, writing a birthday card, in a swimming pool. How many school days and glasses of lemonade to fill the pool (Olympic-sized pool; 660,000 gallons; 8-ounce glasses; premixed lemonade; 600 kids helping = 98 glasses poured in by all students for 179 school days, for a total of 10.5 million glasses of lemonades)? Each question is posed in a letter to Ms. Mary Math and then answered in a breezy, exclamation-mark–laden narrative piece (with longer explanations in the back of the book, along with metric conversions and concept definitions), while the entertaining Patton works the mixed-media pedals, featuring a multiracial mix of children in fanciful scenarios. Still, it all feels a bit forced, and the dizzying number of numbers in Ms. Mary Math’s responses can make the eyes cross.

How many readers who make it through would go back for a second go-round? Hmm. (Informational picture book. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4677-3489-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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This may spark a few imaginations, but its lack of directions and the difficulty level of most of the projects—not to...

WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH ONLY ONE SHOE?

REUSE, RECYCLE, REINVENT

Readers learn how to “Reuse, Recycle, Reinvent” what some might call trash into treasures.  

Rhyming poems each introduce a single way to reuse/reinvent something: A toilet becomes a planter, the titular shoe morphs into a birdhouse, a (very large, nonstandard) light bulb houses a fish, and favorite jeans that are holey? They become a new purse. The most creative has to be a table supported by a pitchfork: “If you’re wanting to picnic on uneven ground, / where your table’s unstable or up on a mound, / stop and think! Be creative! The answer’s around.” While cans, wood and wire are both easily found and transformed into musical instruments, not all these projects use such common materials or are as simple to complete: Half of a boat turns into a covered bench, a car becomes a bed, and a grocery cart transforms into a chair. And although it’s neat to see a farmer’s new watering trough (an enormous tire) and a community’s new playground (an old ambulance anchors it), these are not projects that are likely to fire readers up to do similar things. Cartoon spot illustrations share space with photographs of the new inventions, and both are needed to make sense of the poems.

This may spark a few imaginations, but its lack of directions and the difficulty level of most of the projects—not to mention its failure to impart reasons for reducing, reusing and recycling—make this one to skip. (Poetry. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55451-642-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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If this book were a pizza, young readers would gobble down every slice—and demand more for dessert.

IF

A MIND-BENDING NEW WAY OF LOOKING AT BIG IDEAS AND NUMBERS

Continuing his exploration of the mind-expanding possibilities of scale modeling, Smith extends the premise of If America Were a Village (2009) to encompass life, time and the universe.

Following a well-taken note that his comparisons are mostly approximations, the author proposes thinking of Earth’s life span as a month, all wealth as 100 coins and 14 similar transformations designed to make incomprehensibly huge numbers or measurements at least theoretically graspable. The trick doesn’t always work (“If the Milky Way galaxy were shrunk to the size of a dinner plate...,” the visible universe “would be about the size of Belgium”), but it does offer readers a chance to think of time, for instance, in terms of days or minutes instead of millions of years. Better yet, Adams’ painted infographics offer literal visualizations of the planets as balls of different sizes, of where inventions from fire to smartphones would lie relative to one another along a ruler or tape measure, and how many “slices” of our life are consumed in sleeping—if our life were a pizza. In a closing note addressed to adults, the author suggests further scaling and numeracy-building exercises.

If this book were a pizza, young readers would gobble down every slice—and demand more for dessert. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-894786-34-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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