TO THE MOON

From the Sydney & Simon series

The STEAM twins are back in a new adventure (Go Green!, 2015, etc.), this time competing against each other to win a chance to meet famous astronaut Cmdr. Kris Kornfield.

As soon as she spies the poster announcing the contest, creative, artsy Sydney has her idea—a 3-D model of the moon—and for a change, she isn’t sharing it with her twin: she wants to win more than she wants to team with her brother. Simon is rather at loose ends on his own but makes observations and does research about the moon each night, educating readers about its phases and introducing solid science vocabulary. The mouse twins’ parents subtly try to point out the two are missing critical pieces, but it’s not until Ms. Fractalini introduces them to the work of Galileo that the twins see what’s missing. Now a team, they use a homemade telescope to make observations and the 3-D printer in the Makerspace Lab of their public library to print an accurate puzzle of the moon’s phases. Their classmates’ projects don’t all combine all the STEAM elements: there’s a poem, a crater model, a spaceship model, and a toothpick house that might someday be built on the moon. In this outing, the Reynoldses make Simon and Sydney a bit more kidlike than in prior outings, with their flaws and their enthusiasm. The learning readers will pick up about the moon is virtually painless, and Cmdr. Kornfield’s reveal is a nice touch.

Another STEAM winner. (glossary, note) (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58089-679-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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A bubble-gum crowd pleaser with wide audience appeal.

OLGA AND THE SMELLY THING FROM NOWHERE

From the Olga series , Vol. 1

A young girl who prefers science to people discovers an adorable and smelly little creature.

With an inquisitive mind and a dark teardrop-shaped swoop of hair, Olga may not have many friends, but she loves animals and thinks even their "farts are cute." She studies them and carefully transcribes her observations; she hopes someday to hang out with Jane Goodall. When she hears a scary rumble in her trash can, Olga discovers Meh, a pudgy, smelly creature that she describes as a "cross between an inflated hamster and a potato drawn by a three-year-old." Like any good scientist-in-training, she observes Meh, trying to discern his habits and his diet. When Meh goes missing, Olga must recruit actual people to help her find him—including two pop-star–obsessed girls she calls "The Lalas," a friendly boy with a tall scribble of hair and an incontinent dog, a punk-rock librarian, and a goofy but helpful shopkeeper. Gravel's tale is a visually interesting mix of illustration and story, punctuated by numerous lists, comic panels, and cartoon diagrams and led by a smart female protagonist. Covering everything from zoology to poop jokes, Gravel has painted her tale with a broad brush that should render this an easy sell to most young readers. The human characters all have paper-white skin, and there is no other cueing of racial difference.

A bubble-gum crowd pleaser with wide audience appeal. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-235126-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A launch-pad fizzle.

THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF SPACE

Flaps and pull-tabs in assorted astro-scenes reveal several wonders of the universe as well as inside glimpses of observatories, rockets, a space suit, and the International Space Station.

Interactive features include a spinnable Milky Way, pop-up launches of Ariane and Soyuz rockets, a solar-system tour, visits to the surfaces of the moon and Mars, and cutaway views beneath long, thin flaps of an international array of launch vehicles. Despite these bells and whistles, this import is far from ready for liftoff. Not only has Antarctica somehow gone missing from the pop-up globe, but Baumann’s commentary (at least in Booker’s translation from the French original) shows more enthusiasm than strict attention to accuracy. Both Mercury and Venus are designated “hottest planet” (right answer: Venus); claims that there is no gravity in space and that black holes are a type of star are at best simplistic; and “we do not know what [other galaxies] actually look like” is nonsensical. Moreover, in a clumsy attempt to diversify the cast on a spread about astronaut training, Latyk gives an (evidently) Asian figure caricatured slit eyes and yellow skin.

A launch-pad fizzle. (Informational pop-up picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 979-1-02760-197-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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