TREE OF LIFE

THE INCREDIBLE BIODIVERSITY OF LIFE ON EARTH

This introduction to the five kingdoms of living things does an excellent job of helping young readers understand how scientists organize and classify all living things. For each kingdom, the author provides a brief introduction, an estimate of the number of species in the kingdom, and thumbnail sketches of unusual or illustrative species. She is quick to acknowledge that scientists continue to discover new species and re-evaluate and classify existing ones. Science enthusiasts will relish the astronomical numbers and odd facts, for example, “there are 350,000 known species of beetles,” and the world’s oldest and heaviest fungi, found in a Michigan forest weighs more than an elephant. The illustrator continues the metaphor of the tree of life by capturing individual species laid out on a leaf, and using an icon of a tree throughout with a portion of leaves highlighted to note the relative number of species in each kingdom. Large-sized, both handsome and useful, this is an outstanding collaboration of author and illustrator. (note to teachers and parents, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 1-55337-669-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2004

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This middle-grade story of family, friendship and school has all the right elements, but it lacks an ignition spark.

RUBY GOLDBERG'S BRIGHT IDEA

A Rube Goldberg namesake discovers there’s more to life than inventions.

Fifth-grader Ruby Goldberg spends more time thinking about elaborate contraptions than about school or the people around her. Determined to win the gold medal that has eluded her in earlier science fairs, she focuses all her attention on the construction of her entry, ignoring her patient best friend’s needs and her grieving grandfather’s feelings. But there’s hope that, like the cartoonist and inventor she was named for, she can become a more well-rounded person. At her father’s suggestion, she collaborates with classmate Dominic, a former rival. Working together leads to friendship, and their intricate system for the delivery of a newspaper and slippers is, indeed, an engineering marvel—though she comes to understand it will never replace her grandfather’s dog. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite all come together, despite Ruby’s appropriately self-centered and sometimes-funny narration. By her own account, Ruby has been supercompetitive for years; her sudden behavior changes are therefore not quite credible. Ruby’s inventive mind is interesting, though the actual diagrammed workings of her Tomato-Matic 2000 are sadly opaque (thank goodness the narrative describes it).

This middle-grade story of family, friendship and school has all the right elements, but it lacks an ignition spark. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-8027-8

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

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ACCIDENTS MAY HAPPEN

FIFTY INVENTIONS DISCOVERED BY MISTAKE

In this entertaining companion volume to Mistakes that Worked (1994), Jones describes more of the often humorous incidents that resulted in inventions, products, and fashions. The telephone and photography are discussed as well as cellophane, Bakelite, Masonite, and dynamite. Another chapter offers speculation as to the origins of yeast, raisins, coffee, and vinegar, without much in the way of documentation, and a part of a chapter is devoted to the meanings of some nursery rhymes (it's never clear what they have to do with inventions). Nevertheless, this is entertaining reading, with whimsical black-and-white drawings, places to write for more information, a brief bibliography, and an index. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: June 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-385-32162-7

Page Count: 86

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1996

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