SEA-FARI DEEP

The Jason Project is familiar to many Internet surfers, who have watched and even interacted with scientists off the coast of Baja California, in Mexico, as they dive to the ocean floor to explore deep sea vents, and the creatures which form near them, including the astounding bacteria that use chemical energy to make sugar. Dusty, in a breathless, first-person narration (“ ‘Wow!’ I gasped, ‘Awesome!’ “), explores the bottom of the sea with the crew of the Jason Project. Students use cameras aboard the deep-diving mini-submarine, Turtle, and even operate an undersea robot, Jason. The adventure is splendid, with detailed diagrams and fascinating information; the narration is often banal: “ ‘It sounds like an ecosystem that’s really different from the one we live in,’ I thought out loud.” In fact, the framing of questions and facts in dialogue (“ ‘VÇronique, we learned in school that water turns into a gas when it boils at 212¯F (100¯C). Why is the 572¯F water coming out of the smoker still liquid?’ I asked”) is overly tricky and renders the text difficult to follow. The layout combines text, pastels, watercolors, full-color photographs, and a border; if such a busy, cluttered format occasionally obscures the text for younger readers, it may attract MTV-age readers accustomed to the frantic pace of web pages. (maps, glossary) (Picture book. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7922-7340-0

Page Count: 47

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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ISAAC THE ICE CREAM TRUCK

Newcomer Santoro’s story of the ice cream truck that pined for a more important role in life suffers from a premise that’s well-worn and still fraying—the person or object that longs to be something “more” in life, only to find out that his or its lot in life is enough, after all. Isaac the ice cream truck envies all the bigger, larger, more important vehicles he encounters (the big wheels are depicted as a rude lot, sullen, surly, and snarling, hardly a group to excite much envy) in a day, most of all the fire trucks and their worthy occupants. When Isaac gets that predictable boost to his self-image—he serves up ice cream to over-heated firefighters after a big blaze—it comes as an unmistakable putdown to the picture-book audience: the children who cherished Isaac—“They would gather around him, laughing and happy”—weren’t reason enough for him to be contented. Santoro equips the tale with a tune of Isaac’s very own, and retro scenes in tropical-hued colored pencil that deftly convey the speed of the trucks with skating, skewed angles. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-5296-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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CLICKETY CLACK

A train load of wild and wacky animals gets so noisy that the engineer has to shout to get them to quiet down. The little black train picks up yaks, acrobats, a troupe of ducks, and stomping elephants as passengers. But when two mice that are in to fireworks climb aboard, the engineer threatens to stop the whole train. “ ‘Keep it down!’ yells Driver Zach. ‘You’re giving me a headache attack!’ “ Everyone quickly hushes up, and soon, “the only sound you hear, in fact,/is the sound of the wheels on the railroad track. Clickety clack, clickety clack.” The words bounce along to the rhythm of a train on its way, and the swell of the sound effects makes this a joy to read aloud. Spengler’s robust illustrations capture an antic cast of passengers, conveying the action as much through composition as color. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-670-87946-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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