Familiar school concerns, nicely resolved, make this another excellent selection for early chapter-book readers. (Fiction....

FRACTIONS = TROUBLE!

Third-grader Wilson Williams knows he'll never learn fractions: “Multiplication was hard enough,” he tells his pet hamster, Pip. 

Worse, his parents have arranged for a math tutor. Just the idea of a tutor is embarrassing, but sympathetic Mrs. Tucker uses his love for hamsters to help him understand the math, and soon he’s quite clear about the difference between the Nice Numerator and the Dumb Denominator. At the same time, Pip becomes the basis for a successful science-fair project. Not only does Wilson have some academic success, he makes his little brother happy. Though only in kindergarten, Kipper has a science-fair project too. In the process of Kipper’s investigations, one of his favorite stuffed animals disappears. Big brother Wilson comes to the rescue. Most satisfying of all, he discovers that others—even his very best friend—are tutored, too. The short chapters have believable dialogue and plenty of reader appeal. In one, Wilson tries to teach his hamster to shake hands; in another, his friend Josh experiments with blowing up a pickle. Karas' scratchy grayscale drawings, one to a chapter, support the story. This sequel to 7 x 9 = Trouble (2002) follows logically but also stands on its own.

Familiar school concerns, nicely resolved, make this another excellent selection for early chapter-book readers. (Fiction. 7-10) 

Pub Date: June 21, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-36716-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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A bubble-gum crowd pleaser with wide audience appeal.

OLGA AND THE SMELLY THING FROM NOWHERE

From the Olga series , Vol. 1

A young girl who prefers science to people discovers an adorable and smelly little creature.

With an inquisitive mind and a dark teardrop-shaped swoop of hair, Olga may not have many friends, but she loves animals and thinks even their "farts are cute." She studies them and carefully transcribes her observations; she hopes someday to hang out with Jane Goodall. When she hears a scary rumble in her trash can, Olga discovers Meh, a pudgy, smelly creature that she describes as a "cross between an inflated hamster and a potato drawn by a three-year-old." Like any good scientist-in-training, she observes Meh, trying to discern his habits and his diet. When Meh goes missing, Olga must recruit actual people to help her find him—including two pop-star–obsessed girls she calls "The Lalas," a friendly boy with a tall scribble of hair and an incontinent dog, a punk-rock librarian, and a goofy but helpful shopkeeper. Gravel's tale is a visually interesting mix of illustration and story, punctuated by numerous lists, comic panels, and cartoon diagrams and led by a smart female protagonist. Covering everything from zoology to poop jokes, Gravel has painted her tale with a broad brush that should render this an easy sell to most young readers. The human characters all have paper-white skin, and there is no other cueing of racial difference.

A bubble-gum crowd pleaser with wide audience appeal. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-235126-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A launch-pad fizzle.

THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF SPACE

Flaps and pull-tabs in assorted astro-scenes reveal several wonders of the universe as well as inside glimpses of observatories, rockets, a space suit, and the International Space Station.

Interactive features include a spinnable Milky Way, pop-up launches of Ariane and Soyuz rockets, a solar-system tour, visits to the surfaces of the moon and Mars, and cutaway views beneath long, thin flaps of an international array of launch vehicles. Despite these bells and whistles, this import is far from ready for liftoff. Not only has Antarctica somehow gone missing from the pop-up globe, but Baumann’s commentary (at least in Booker’s translation from the French original) shows more enthusiasm than strict attention to accuracy. Both Mercury and Venus are designated “hottest planet” (right answer: Venus); claims that there is no gravity in space and that black holes are a type of star are at best simplistic; and “we do not know what [other galaxies] actually look like” is nonsensical. Moreover, in a clumsy attempt to diversify the cast on a spread about astronaut training, Latyk gives an (evidently) Asian figure caricatured slit eyes and yellow skin.

A launch-pad fizzle. (Informational pop-up picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 979-1-02760-197-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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