Inspiration for young scientists, artists and inventors.

FULL STEAM AHEAD!

From the Sydney & Simon series , Vol. 1

Twin mice solve a problem using STEAM—science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics—in this series opener.

When a heat wave threatens to kill the window-box flowers the twins need for their much-anticipated Art in Bloom show, they have to both figure out why their third-story window won’t open (the water cycle is to blame) and how to get water to the thirsty flowers (an invention of Archimedes’ is the answer). Luckily, several dei ex machina lead the twins to some people who can help them spark some ideas. Sydney and Simon, the offspring of an inventor mother and poet father, are steeped in the arts and sciences that will help them in “thinkering” about their problem and finding a solution. Sydney expresses herself through drawing, using her spiral-bound Wonder Journal to jot down ideas, record hypotheses and draw what she observes. Simon’s Wonder Journal is on a tablet, allowing him to take pictures, record video and sound, and combine all these into something new. Sydney and Simon are solid, though perhaps idealized, models for those aspiring to STEAM careers—though in this chapter book, readers accustomed to STEM programs will be struck by the emphasis on the arts piece. (STEM to STEAM is a Rhode Island School of Design initiative to add the arts and design to STEM). Ink-and–watercolor-wash illustrations complement the text.

Inspiration for young scientists, artists and inventors. (glossary, author and illustrator’s note) (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-58089-675-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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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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