This easy read only lightly deals with a common childhood issue, and its winsome attitude makes it fun.

READ REVIEW

BEN THE INVENTOR

Ben and his best friend Jack face a crisis: Jack is moving away. Perhaps the wily pair can invent some way to prevent that?

Ben and Jack live across the street from each other; a speed bump connects their houses and, seemingly, their hearts. When the “for sale” sign appears in Jack’s front yard, its threat seems dire. “Inventors invent inventions,” the two grade-schoolers like to say. So they begin to construct a giant catapult to shoot dead weeds into Jack’s front yard to discourage buyers.  If that fails, they can resort to Plans B or C. All of their plans share a common feature, a quality of dreaming and scheming that seems perfectly age appropriate: Not too well thought out, but very imaginative. Taking into consideration the controlled vocabulary of this effort geared toward readers transitioning to chapter books, Ben and Jack exchange a lot of believable dialogue, but neither of their characters is particularly distinguishable from the other. Attractive, cheerful black-and-white full-page illustrations appear every few pages. While having a new friend ever-so-conveniently move into Jack’s house after he leaves seems like a too-easy resolution, everything about this effort is charmingly upbeat.

This easy read only lightly deals with a common childhood issue, and its winsome attitude makes it fun. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-55469-802-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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In spite of the book’s flaws, dragons are very appealing, and tales for young audiences that model the scientific method are...

DRAGONS AND MARSHMALLOWS

From the Zoey and Sassafras series , Vol. 1

Zoey discovers that she can see magical creatures that might need her help.

That’s a good thing because her mother has been caring for the various beasts since childhood, but now she’s leaving on a business trip so the work will fall to Zoey. Most people (like Zoey’s father) can’t see the magical creatures, so Zoey, who appears in illustrations to be black, will have to experiment with their care by problem-solving using the scientific method to determine appropriate treatment and feeding. When a tiny, sick dragon shows up on her doorstep, she runs an experiment and determines that marshmallows appear to be the proper food. Unfortunately, she hadn’t done enough research beforehand to understand that although dragons might like marshmallows, they might not be the best food for a sick, fire-breathing baby. Although the incorporation of important STEM behaviors is a plus, the exposition is mildly clunky, with little character development and stilted dialogue. Many pages are dense with large-print text, related in Zoey’s not especially childlike voice. However, the inclusion in each chapter of a couple of attractive black-and-white illustrations of round-faced people and Zoey’s mischievous cat helps break up the narrative.

In spite of the book’s flaws, dragons are very appealing, and tales for young audiences that model the scientific method are nice to see. (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943147-08-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: The Innovation Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Readers (and listeners) will think that this book is the bee’s knees.

THE HONEYBEE

Children will be buzzing to learn more about honeybees after reading this story.

Hall takes her readers on a sunny romp through a springtime pasture abuzz with friendly honeybees in this bright and cheerful picture book. Hall’s rhyme scheme is inviting and mirrors the staccato sounds of a bee buzzing. At times, however, meaning seems to take a back seat to the rhyme. The bees are suggested to “tap” while flying, a noise that adult readers might have trouble explaining to curious listeners. Later, the “hill” the bees return to may elicit further questions, as this point is not addressed textually or visually. Minor quibbles aside, the vocabulary is on-point as the bees demonstrate the various stages of nectar collection and honey creation. Arsenault’s illustrations, a combination of ink, gouache, graphite, and colored pencil, are energetic and cheerful. Extra points should be awarded for properly illustrating a natural honeybee hive (as opposed to the often depicted wasp nest). The expressive bees are also well-done. Their faces are welcoming, but their sharp noses hint at the stingers that may be lurking behind them. Hall’s ending note to readers will be appreciated by adults but will require their interpretation to be accessible to children. A sensible choice for read-alouds and STEAM programs.

Readers (and listeners) will think that this book is the bee’s knees. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6997-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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