More a Model T (or better yet an Edsel) than a T-Bird.

HOW CARS WORK

THE INTERACTIVE GUIDE TO MECHANISMS THAT MAKE A CAR MOVE

An ambitious but impractical introduction to 10 mechanical systems common to most automobiles, with build-your-own cardboard components for each.

The book opens with general descriptions and cartoon cutaway illustrations of a four-cycle engine, transmission, differential, brakes, steering and other features. Pictures on each spread invite manually dexterous readers to construct their own flat “working” models. This is done on the supplied detachable pegboard. Models of a cam-driven valve, a piston in a cylinder, versions of the rack-and-pinion mechanisms that control windshield wipers and steering, and various gear pairings use the no fewer than 45 (!) heavy-gauge gears, rocker arms and other pieces (plus a pouch of plastic fasteners) stuffed into an attached box. (Detailed assembly instructions are in the box as well.) Not only are many of these pieces small—and all easy to lose—but the “spring” for the model shock absorber is a single solid piece that will flex only if broken. Furthermore, as the author and illustrator skimp on some definitions (just what is a “parking pawl”?) and skip mention of four-wheel drive, of modern hybrid electric cars and of electronic components in general, their title promises more than it really delivers.

More a Model T (or better yet an Edsel) than a T-Bird. (Informational novelty. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7624-4726-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off.

TINY LITTLE ROCKET

This rocket hopes to take its readers on a birthday blast—but there may or may not be enough fuel.

Once a year, a one-seat rocket shoots out from Earth. Why? To reveal a special congratulatory banner for a once-a-year event. The second-person narration puts readers in the pilot’s seat and, through a (mostly) ballad-stanza rhyme scheme (abcb), sends them on a journey toward the sun, past meteors, and into the Kuiper belt. The final pages include additional information on how birthdays are measured against the Earth’s rotations around the sun. Collingridge aims for the stars with this title, and he mostly succeeds. The rhyme scheme flows smoothly, which will make listeners happy, but the illustrations (possibly a combination of paint with digital enhancements) may leave the viewers feeling a little cold. The pilot is seen only with a 1960s-style fishbowl helmet that completely obscures the face, gender, and race by reflecting the interior of the rocket ship. This may allow readers/listeners to picture themselves in the role, but it also may divest them of any emotional connection to the story. The last pages—the backside of a triple-gatefold spread—label the planets and include Pluto. While Pluto is correctly labeled as a dwarf planet, it’s an unusual choice to include it but not the other dwarfs: Ceres, Eris, etc. The illustration also neglects to include the asteroid belt or any of the solar system’s moons.

A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-18949-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: David Fickling/Phoenix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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A lighthearted read that will offer comfort to young children that others too face challenges of friendship, teamwork and...

PARKER BELL AND THE SCIENCE OF FRIENDSHIP

In her debut chapter book, Platt shares the story of a young girl navigating friendships and the challenges of trying to win her school’s science triathlon.

Young Parker Bell is a curious child who loves science and aspires to match up to Mae Jemison and Jane Goodall one day. Her best friend and partner in science is coding whiz Cassie Malouf. They have been best friends since kindergarten, but Parker gets jealous when Cassie suddenly starts becoming friendly with Theo Zachary, a shy boy in their class. Parker worries that Cassie likes Theo more than her, and she fights hard to keep her friend. Matters only get worse when Cassie invites Theo to be part of their team for the science triathlon, which features a science trivia contest, an egg drop, and a presentation. In a somewhat predictable plot, Parker realizes she has a lot in common with Theo as she spends more time with him. Platt works hard to defy gender stereotypes. In addition to the girls’ STEM enthusiasm, Parker’s mom teaches phys ed, her dad owns a bakery, and Cassie’s mom teaches math. Zhai’s simple black-and-white illustrations of Parker, Cassie, and the classrooms provide a good visual aid to the story, depicting Parker and Theo as white and Cassie with dark skin and long black hair.

A lighthearted read that will offer comfort to young children that others too face challenges of friendship, teamwork and competition. (Fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-97347-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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