COUNT ON ME

If readers aren’t math-curious at the start, they will be by the end.

A young child explains a love of math and how it shapes the world.

Finding one’s passion is no easy feat, even (perhaps especially) when surrounded by everyone else’s. Dad loves to paint, Mom thrills at entomology, and a brother excels at music, but none of those quite fit. Neither does acting or dancing or cooking or singing or sports—all worthy activities but none of them the stuff of passion for the determined narrator. When everything has been tried, the protagonist is left with the simple truth—the one thing this child likes the most is math. Tanco unhurriedly unspools the protagonist’s passion as the text (occasionally punctuated with new vocabulary) notes how thoroughly the world is immersed in math, whether it’s in the form of geometric shapes on the playground, group problems at the dinner table, or paper-airplane trajectories. With each page turn, the lens and framework of math as a way to see the world takes shape. Without softening or hiding basic (but still complex) mathematical concepts, Tanco’s open, loose-lined illustrations offer visual dimension and definition, bridging, for instance, the unfamiliar concept of concentric circles with the everyday occurrence of water ripples. Further information can be found in a visual glossary. The narrator has light brown skin and a mass of brown, kinky curls; Mom has a similar look, and Dad presents white.

If readers aren’t math-curious at the start, they will be by the end. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6575-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

CLAYMATES

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

LOLA AND THE TROLL

Too idealistic by half.

A group of kids take a troll to task.

A troll named Tom lives in Lola’s neighborhood. In Rodriguez’s delicate artwork, he’s tall and bizarre looking, with party hats for ears and oven mitts over his hands, and as kids walk past, he holds up signs plastered with insulting messages tailored to what he sees. No one likes the troll, but his comments cut. Most try to avoid Tom, but a light-skinned girl named Lola takes the messages to heart and slowly changes herself in an attempt to avoid criticism. After Lola has a heartfelt conversation with a bookstore owner about how bullies are the ones who are really afraid, she and the other kids stand up to the troll, revealed to be a short, light-skinned boy who’s “new to this neighborhood” and “just wanted…attention.” Many pages are crammed full of text, and one central metaphor feels overexplained as Lola describes herself as “tall on the inside,” which is apparently “what counts.” This story attempts to deliver an old-fashioned message about bullying through the modern concept of an internet troll, but neither element works especially well in this earnest text that naïvely imagines that all conflicts can be resolved through conversation and that trolls can be scared away through honesty and confidence.

Too idealistic by half. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9780593527634

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023

Close Quickview