Playful science for preschool and the early elementary years.


Angry at learning he’s been demoted to a dwarf planet, Pluto pays a visit to Earth, where a boy’s reassurance satisfies his need to be special.

After Speedy the space rock tells him about his new status, Pluto seeks help from other planets on his journey to demand reclassification. Unfortunately, they’re too busy, too scared, too vain, too bossy and too distracted. Metzger’s personified planets appear as large, round, expressive faces in Lee’s whimsical pen-and-ink illustrations. Some speak in speech bubbles. Varying in size and spread, these images also show a variety of surprising travelers whizzing about. (Don’t miss the snowman astronaut.) The near-black of space is effectively rendered with hundreds of scribbled lines; pastel daubs show the blue of Earth and Pluto's purple rage. The author includes some actual facts, supplemented by an afterword describing Pluto’s discovery, composition and moons, as well as the International Astronomical Union’s current definition of a planet, which the one-time ninth planet doesn’t meet. This laudable attempt to present the most recent understanding of the solar system to very young readers and listeners also demonstrates science’s rapidly changing state: Pluto’s most recently discovered fourth moon, still unnamed, is not included.

Playful science for preschool and the early elementary years. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-24934-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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It takes a village to make a school. In Chad, big brothers and sisters lead the way for younger children on the first day of school. Little Thomas is full of questions. When he and the other children arrive, there are no classrooms and no desks. But the teacher's there, holding a trowel. "We will build our school," she declares. Everyone sets to work, making mud bricks that dry in the sun and a roof out of grass and saplings. Thomas loves his lessons; every day he learns something new. At the end of the school year, the minds of the students "are fat with knowledge." And just in time: The rainy season arrives and makes short work of the schoolhouse. Come September, they'll start all over. Rumford's illustrations make great use of color, dark brown skin and bright shirts, shorts and dresses against golden backgrounds, the hues applied in smudgy layers that infuse each scene with warmth—until the gray rains arrive. It's a nifty social-studies lesson tucked into a warm tale of community. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-547-24307-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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