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 floral fantasia for casual browsers as well as budding botanists.

THE BIG BOOK OF BLOOMS

Spirited illustrations brighten a large-format introduction to flowers and their pollinators.

Showing a less Eurocentric outlook than in his Big Book of Birds (2019), Zommer employs agile brushwork and a fondness for graceful lines and bright colors to bring to life bustling bouquets from a range of habitats, from rainforest to desert. Often switching from horizontal to vertical orientations, the topical spreads progress from overviews of major floral families and broad looks at plant anatomy and reproduction to close-ups of select flora—roses and tulips to Venus flytraps and stinking flowers. The book then closes with a shoutout to the conservators and other workers at Kew Gardens (this is a British import) and quick suggestions for young balcony or windowsill gardeners. In most of the low-angled scenes, fancifully drawn avian or insect pollinators with human eyes hover around all the large, luscious blooms, as do one- or two-sentence comments that generally add cogent observations or insights: “All parts of the deadly nightshade plant contain poison. It has been used to poison famous emperors, kings and warriors throughout history.” (Confusingly for the audience, the accurate but limited assertion that bees “often visit blue or purple flowers” appears to be contradicted by an adjacent view of several zeroing in on a yellow toadflax.) Human figures, or, in one scene, hands, are depicted in a variety of sizes, shapes, and skin colors.

A floral fantasia for casual browsers as well as budding botanists. (glossary, index) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-500-65199-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Familiar school concerns, nicely resolved, make this another excellent selection for early chapter-book readers. (Fiction....

FRACTIONS = TROUBLE!

Third-grader Wilson Williams knows he'll never learn fractions: “Multiplication was hard enough,” he tells his pet hamster, Pip. 

Worse, his parents have arranged for a math tutor. Just the idea of a tutor is embarrassing, but sympathetic Mrs. Tucker uses his love for hamsters to help him understand the math, and soon he’s quite clear about the difference between the Nice Numerator and the Dumb Denominator. At the same time, Pip becomes the basis for a successful science-fair project. Not only does Wilson have some academic success, he makes his little brother happy. Though only in kindergarten, Kipper has a science-fair project too. In the process of Kipper’s investigations, one of his favorite stuffed animals disappears. Big brother Wilson comes to the rescue. Most satisfying of all, he discovers that others—even his very best friend—are tutored, too. The short chapters have believable dialogue and plenty of reader appeal. In one, Wilson tries to teach his hamster to shake hands; in another, his friend Josh experiments with blowing up a pickle. Karas' scratchy grayscale drawings, one to a chapter, support the story. This sequel to 7 x 9 = Trouble (2002) follows logically but also stands on its own.

Familiar school concerns, nicely resolved, make this another excellent selection for early chapter-book readers. (Fiction. 7-10) 

Pub Date: June 21, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-36716-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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