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From the Astrid the Astronaut series , Vol. 1

An exuberant portrayal of a girl with hearing restrictions reaching for the stars.

Astrid, a spunky, smart California third grader, has great aspirations.

She will become “the first astronaut with hearing aids,” a possibility that is treated very naturally within this story, the first in a new chapter book series. Joining the Shooting Stars, an after-school club devoted to all things space, has long been part of Astrid’s “Astronomically Grand Plan.” Though Astrid wants to go to space camp, it’s expensive, but a scholarship is available for the Shooting Stars student who earns the most points for completing the STEM-oriented Astro Missions. She discovers another problem when she realizes that her best friend, Hallie, is more interested in art than in STEM and joins the Petite Picassos club. How can Astrid navigate Shooting Stars without her BFF, especially when she and her teammate Veejay don’t start out well? Club teacher Ms. Ruiz stresses creativity and partnership, and math and science enthusiasts will be attracted to this book, but the real emphasis is on relationships. Astrid must befriend Hallie again after voicing her disappointment with her interests and learn to be a good teammate. Astrid is likable, and her story, told in first person, realistically explores her hearing issues, her initial problem-solving failures, and her successes. Black-and-white illustrations depict Astrid (wearing her hearing aids) and her family as light-skinned, though other students appear to be racially diverse, and Hallie is cued as Asian.

An exuberant portrayal of a girl with hearing restrictions reaching for the stars. (Chapter book. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-8148-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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From the Ada Lace series , Vol. 1

The story feels a bit contrived, but Ada will be a welcome addition to the small circle of science-loving girls in the...

Using science and technology, third-grader Ada Lace kicks off her new series by solving a mystery even with her leg in a cast.

Temporarily housebound after a badly executed bungee jump, Ada uses binoculars to document the ecosystem of her new neighborhood in San Francisco. She records her observations in a field journal, a project that intrigues new friend Nina, who lives nearby. When they see that Ms. Reed’s dog, Marguerite, is missing, they leap to the conclusion that it has been stolen. Nina does the legwork and Ada provides the technology for their search for the dognapper. Story-crafting takes a back seat to scene-setting in this series kickoff that introduces the major players. As part of the series formula, science topics and gadgetry are integrated into the stories and further explained in a “Behind the Science” afterword. This installment incorporates drones, a wireless camera, gecko gloves, and the Turing test as well as the concept of an ecosystem. There are no ethnic indicators in the text, but the illustrations reveal that Ada, her family, and bratty neighbor Milton are white; Nina appears to be Southeast Asian; and Mr. Peebles, an inventor who lives nearby, is black.

The story feels a bit contrived, but Ada will be a welcome addition to the small circle of science-loving girls in the chapter-book world. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8599-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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From the Sejal Sinha series , Vol. 1

An absorbing read that balances lessons about friendship and science.

When a hurricane threatens to ruin Diwali, teamwork—and a little bit of magic—is all a young Indian girl needs to save the day.

It’s Diwali, and Sejal, 8, can’t wait to draw rangoli, light sparklers, and devour a traditional Indian feast with her family, including her younger brother, Abu, her older cousin Mira, and her dog, Fluff Monster. But then a hurricane threatens to put a damper on the festivities. Determined to save the day, Sejal gathers up Professor Cheetah, her “best stuffie friend,” and hops into her cardboard box, which, with a little bit of magic, transforms into a “hurricane-hunting aircraft.” She’s soon joined by a frantic Abu, an enthusiastic Fluff Monster, and a reluctant Mira, who no longer believes in cardboard-box magic. It isn’t until the team meets a group of scientists in the center of the storm that Mira admits that magic is just as real as science—and that some jobs require a degree of imagination that only children possess. Prasad layers the narrative with internal and external conflicts, investing just as much importance in Sejal’s determination to salvage her relationship with her cousin as she does in the children’s mission to save Diwali. At its best, Sejal’s narratorial voice crackles with intelligence and perseverance; at times, however, the language is a bit clunky. Overall, though, the book is a well-plotted, entertaining story about science, tradition, creative thinking, and growing up.

An absorbing read that balances lessons about friendship and science. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9781665911788

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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