A colorful kid’s-book supplement for reports, projects and science fairs.

EARTH

A SHIPMATE'S GUIDE TO OUR SOLAR SYSTEM

Another eye-catching earth science book for kids by award-winning author and former teacher Simon (Coral Reefs, 2013, etc.).

Simon’s signature, vivid color photographs adorn this readable primary text, which begins by comparing the Earth to a spaceship on a long journey. As the ship’s inhabitants, we humans must “learn to use our supplies wisely and protect our planet carefully,” writes Simon. After the book briefly introduces readers to the planets in the solar system, it covers topics such as the Earth’s orbit, its main climate zones, the five layers of the atmosphere (troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere and exosphere), the jet stream, and the oceans and continents. The book’s organization is a bit awkward, as there are no boldface headings or clear divisions of topics. However, there are additional notes about the photographs at the end of the book for curious readers. Tidbits of modern-day information sprinkled throughout the text should also pique kids’ interest; for example, according to the author, over 180 billion email messages are sent on the planet Earth each day. This book could also be used to teach children about diversity, as it includes facts about the populations of various continents; according to Simon, for example, 2 out of every 3 people on Earth live in Asia, in sharp contrast to Australia, where fewer than 1 out of 100 people live. Additionally, the kid-friendly tone is sure to leave a lasting impression; at one point, Simon describes the Earth as a “Goldilocks planet,” meaning it is neither too hot nor too cold, but “just right” for life to exist on it. He also adds a weather-themed tongue twister, which ends with the playful, memorable line: “We'll weather the weather, whatever the weather, whether we like it or not.”

A colorful kid’s-book supplement for reports, projects and science fairs.

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 58

Publisher: StarWalk Kids Media

Review Posted Online: April 2, 2014

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Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S VALENTINE

Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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