A modest, but engaging work provides children with tales of bees and the water cycle using bright colors and simple rhyming...

READ REVIEW

Chemistry In My Dreams

NATURAL PROCESS

This first installment in a picture book series introduces scientific concepts through the dreams of a chemistry-loving little girl.

Preschoolers and elementary school-age children are the target audience for this cheery volume, crafted around basic scientific principles, written by Boykin (The Atom: What Am I Really?, 2016), a member of the American Chemical Society’s Coaching Program. She works in the field of polymer chemistry and chemical engineering and also teaches her own series of children’s chemistry classes. The work, using a simple four-line rhyme pattern, comprises two short chapters book-ended by a “prologue” and “epilogue.” In the first chapter, the cautionary tale of “The Lazy Bee” offers an uncomplicated narrative explaining that bees collect nectar to make honey and fulfill different jobs within the hive. The chapter’s final stanza encourages kids to think of learning STEM subjects—science, technology, engineering, and math—as a pathway to discovery. “The Sunburn Snowman” takes children through the water cycle, from freeze to thaw to water vapor and rain, voiced by a friendly snowman with a notably sunny attitude about the process: “We have changed from solid to liquid / And then a liquid to a gas, / Until we drift down as new snowflakes / To play again with you at last.” The book begins and ends with a  girl going to sleep and dreaming of “a wonderland / Of how and what things do,” reinforcing in words and in the use of a female character the idea that studying science, math, and chemistry is a rewarding pursuit for all children, not an intimidating one. The text is set within and underneath French’s colorful illustrations framed with “dream” clouds. While fairly standard in style, these images deliver such pleasant touches as a curling leaf-turned-lounge chair, and water droplets with snowman faces under jaunty caps. Boykin’s next installment in the series, Chemistry In My Dreams, Book 2: Man-Made Processes, is due out in 2017.

A modest, but engaging work provides children with tales of bees and the water cycle using bright colors and simple rhyming text.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: The Body Press/Perigee

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2016

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Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S SPRINGTIME

From the Little Blue Truck series

Little Blue Truck and his pal Toad meet friends old and new on a springtime drive through the country.

This lift-the-flap, interactive entry in the popular Little Blue Truck series lacks the narrative strength and valuable life lessons of the original Little Blue Truck (2008) and its sequel, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way (2009). Both of those books, published for preschoolers rather than toddlers, featured rich storylines, dramatic, kinetic illustrations, and simple but valuable life lessons—the folly of taking oneself too seriously, the importance of friends, and the virtue of taking turns, for example. At about half the length and with half as much text as the aforementioned titles, this volume is a much quicker read. Less a story than a vernal celebration, the book depicts a bucolic drive through farmland and encounters with various animals and their young along the way. Beautifully rendered two-page tableaux teem with butterflies, blossoms, and vibrant pastel, springtime colors. Little Blue greets a sheep standing in the door of a barn: “Yoo-hoo, Sheep! / Beep-beep! / What’s new?” Folding back the durable, card-stock flap reveals the barn’s interior and an adorable set of twin lambs. Encounters with a duck and nine ducklings, a cow with a calf, a pig with 10 (!) piglets, a family of bunnies, and a chicken with a freshly hatched chick provide ample opportunity for counting and vocabulary work.

Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-93809-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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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