An inviting alternative to utilitarian workbooks, but full of transparent contrivances.

THE BOOK OF PERFECTLY PERILOUS MATH

In a labored follow-up to his Book of Potentially Catastrophic Science (2010), Connolly offers 24 hazardous scenarios that require math and logic skills to escape.

Introductions to each chapter specify which “Survival Strategies”—ranging from “Operations and Algebraic Thinking” to “Geometry” and “Expressions and Equations”—will be exercised. The author then plants readers beneath a bladed pendulum, imprisons them in an ancient tomb with coded directions to a hidden exit, charges them with stringing a fiber-optic cable around the Earth before a giant asteroid hits, challenges them to get three people across a rope bridge in the dark with but one flashlight and so on. Though he provides blank work pages for do-it-yourselfers, he also lays out every significant component of each problem and places step-by-step solution immediately adjacent. These are accompanied by “Math Lab” projects that require similar skills in more real-world settings and occasional number tricks. Dramatic and varied as the situations are, they’re never more than thinly disguised exercises, because nearly every one depends on a rat chewing through a rope in exactly one minute, the bus getting precisely 17 miles to the gallon, an astronaut’s heartbeat never varying from 72 beats per minute or other arbitrarily fixed values.

An inviting alternative to utilitarian workbooks, but full of transparent contrivances. (Nonfiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7611-6374-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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THE ARABIAN NIGHTS

In a large, handsome format, Tarnowska offers six tales plus an abbreviated version of the frame story, retold in formal but contemporary language and sandwiched between a note on the Nights’ place in her childhood in Lebanon and a page of glossary and source notes. Rather than preserve the traditional embedded structure and cliffhanger cutoffs, she keeps each story discrete and tones down the sex and violence. This structure begs the question of why Shahriyar lets Shahrazade [sic] live if she tells each evening’s tale complete, but it serves to simplify the reading for those who want just one tale at a time. Only the opener, “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp,” is likely to be familiar to young readers; in others a prince learns to control a flying “Ebony Horse” by “twiddling” its ears, contending djinn argue whether “Prince Kamar el Zaman [or] Princess Boudour” is the more beautiful (the prince wins) and in a Cinderella tale a “Diamond Anklet” subs for the glass slipper. Hénaff’s stylized scenes of domed cityscapes and turbaned figures add properly whimsical visual notes to this short but animated gathering. (Folktales. 10-12)

 

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-84686-122-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Barefoot

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2010

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ONCE UPON A MARIGOLD

From the Marigold Trilogy series , Vol. 1

Cold indeed is the heart not made warm by this bubbly fairy-tale romance. Raised by a kindly forest troll, Christian knows little of the world beyond what he can see through his telescope, but gazing upon a nearby castle, he falls head over heels for Princess Marigold. What chance has he, though, as a (supposed) commoner? When at last he nerves himself to send her a message via carrier pigeon, she answers and the courtship is on—via “p-mail” at first, then, after he lands a job as a castle servant, face to face. Setting numerous fairy-tale conventions just a bit askew, Ferris (Of Sound Mind, 2001, etc.) surrounds her two smart, immensely likable teenagers, who are obviously made for each other, with rival suitors, hyperactive dogs, surprising allies, and strong adversaries. The most notable among the last is devious, domineering Queen Olympia, intent on forcing Marigold into marriage with a penniless, but noble, cipher. The author gets her commonsensical couple to “I Do” through brisk palace intrigue, life-threatening situations, riotous feasting, and general chaos; Queen Olympia gets suitable comeuppance, and the festivities are capped by the required revelation that Christian is actually heir to the throne of neighboring Zandelphia. Fans of Gail Carson Levine’s Princess Tales will be in familiar territory here, as well as seventh heaven. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-15-216791-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

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