A silly, inspiring story of a princess who makes her scientific dreams come true.

THE PRINCESS AND THE PETRI DISH

After numerous setbacks, Princess Pippa achieves her dream of becoming a groundbreaking scientist and inventor.

Even though she lives in a castle, Princess Pippa is not interested in becoming just another curtsying royal. Instead, she spends hours in her laboratory, dreaming of making discoveries that will win her prizes. Lofty ambitions notwithstanding, the majority of Pippa’s chemical forays have been disastrous: In the past, she’s invented brittle bubble gum, soap that turns fingers blue, and bad-smelling mouthwash. Finally, one night at dinner, inspiration strikes. After much experimentation—using a pea, a cocoa bean, and the titular petri dish—Pippa creates peas that tastes like chocolate, so tasty that everyone in the entire kingdom takes to sprinkling them on all of their food at every meal. But just when Pippa is about to celebrate, the pea vines grow faster and faster, spreading beyond the castle walls. Pippa’s scientific prowess is put to the test one more time, when she must invent something to slow down the plants’ growth—and still preserve the delicious peas the kingdom has come to love. Fleiss’ lilting, rhyming abcb verse is a delight to read, and Pippa’s quirky perseverance stands as an endearing example for young budding scientists of all genders. Bouloubasis’ fantastical illustrations are vibrant with movement, color, and detail, but few characters in this kingdom are diverse. The royal family is white.

A silly, inspiring story of a princess who makes her scientific dreams come true. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6644-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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A solid, small step for diversifying STEM stories.

ASTRONAUT ANNIE

What does Annie want to be?

As career day approaches, Annie wants to keep her job choice secret until her family sees her presentation at school. Readers will figure it out, however, through the title and clues Tadgell incorporates into the illustrations. Family members make guesses about her ambitions that are tied to their own passions, although her brother watches as she completes her costume in a bedroom with a Mae Jemison poster, starry décor, and a telescope. There’s a celebratory mood at the culminating presentation, where Annie says she wants to “soar high through the air” like her basketball-playing mother, “explore faraway places” like her hiker dad, and “be brave and bold” like her baker grandmother (this feels forced, but oven mitts are part of her astronaut costume) so “the whole world will hear my exciting stories” like her reporter grandfather. Annie jumps off a chair to “BLAST OFF” in a small illustration superimposed on a larger picture depicting her floating in space with a reddish ground below. It’s unclear if Annie imagines this scene or if it’s her future-self exploring Mars, but either scenario fits the aspirational story. Backmatter provides further reading suggestions and information about the moon and four women astronauts, one of whom is Jemison. Annie and her family are all black.

A solid, small step for diversifying STEM stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-88448-523-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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