Definitely not a beginner’s ABC book, but the visual and print punnery will have elementary kids (and adults) guessing and...

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E-MERGENCY

Help! The letter E has fallen (down the stairs) and can’t get up!

Get ready to chortle over this zany alphabet book, which poses as a mystery with the letters as the cast of characters, aided by some exclamation points. When E takes a tumble in the alphabet’s crowded communal quarters, all the others are concerned. A takes action, as always, calling the ambulance and assembling the alphabet to determine who will take E’s place. “O, you're the obvious option because you’re so well-rounded.” An announcement is made on television not to “uso! E! until! sho! rocovors!” D and C go to Washington to alert the "govornmont," while the other letters talk it up on talk shows. Then A decides to take a road trip to spread the word: “Pack your bags, lottors. It’s timo for a journoy!” When E just doesn’t get better, the search is on for the culprit who’s broken the letter law. The comic illustrations and the comments from the letters totally exaggerate the cleverness and fun while amusingly emphasizing the importance of the letter E in our language. Lichtenheld’s co-author developed the basic concept in a video, Alphabet House, and it is a rich one.

Definitely not a beginner’s ABC book, but the visual and print punnery will have elementary kids (and adults) guessing and laughing. (Alphabet picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8118-7898-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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This may spark a few imaginations, but its lack of directions and the difficulty level of most of the projects—not to...

WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH ONLY ONE SHOE?

REUSE, RECYCLE, REINVENT

Readers learn how to “Reuse, Recycle, Reinvent” what some might call trash into treasures.  

Rhyming poems each introduce a single way to reuse/reinvent something: A toilet becomes a planter, the titular shoe morphs into a birdhouse, a (very large, nonstandard) light bulb houses a fish, and favorite jeans that are holey? They become a new purse. The most creative has to be a table supported by a pitchfork: “If you’re wanting to picnic on uneven ground, / where your table’s unstable or up on a mound, / stop and think! Be creative! The answer’s around.” While cans, wood and wire are both easily found and transformed into musical instruments, not all these projects use such common materials or are as simple to complete: Half of a boat turns into a covered bench, a car becomes a bed, and a grocery cart transforms into a chair. And although it’s neat to see a farmer’s new watering trough (an enormous tire) and a community’s new playground (an old ambulance anchors it), these are not projects that are likely to fire readers up to do similar things. Cartoon spot illustrations share space with photographs of the new inventions, and both are needed to make sense of the poems.

This may spark a few imaginations, but its lack of directions and the difficulty level of most of the projects—not to mention its failure to impart reasons for reducing, reusing and recycling—make this one to skip. (Poetry. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55451-642-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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If this book were a pizza, young readers would gobble down every slice—and demand more for dessert.

IF

A MIND-BENDING NEW WAY OF LOOKING AT BIG IDEAS AND NUMBERS

Continuing his exploration of the mind-expanding possibilities of scale modeling, Smith extends the premise of If America Were a Village (2009) to encompass life, time and the universe.

Following a well-taken note that his comparisons are mostly approximations, the author proposes thinking of Earth’s life span as a month, all wealth as 100 coins and 14 similar transformations designed to make incomprehensibly huge numbers or measurements at least theoretically graspable. The trick doesn’t always work (“If the Milky Way galaxy were shrunk to the size of a dinner plate...,” the visible universe “would be about the size of Belgium”), but it does offer readers a chance to think of time, for instance, in terms of days or minutes instead of millions of years. Better yet, Adams’ painted infographics offer literal visualizations of the planets as balls of different sizes, of where inventions from fire to smartphones would lie relative to one another along a ruler or tape measure, and how many “slices” of our life are consumed in sleeping—if our life were a pizza. In a closing note addressed to adults, the author suggests further scaling and numeracy-building exercises.

If this book were a pizza, young readers would gobble down every slice—and demand more for dessert. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-894786-34-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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