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

THE ASTRONOMICALLY GRAND PLAN

From the Astrid the Astronaut series , Vol. 1

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 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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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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