Even though grandmother meets the Motorwagen with the same disgruntlement as the emperor, everybody else cheers the...

BERTHA TAKES A DRIVE

HOW THE BENZ AUTOMOBILE CHANGED THE WORLD

Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go; we steal father’s car, we are going quite far, and mother cooks up the whole show.

In the town of Mannheim in Germany, in 1888, Bertha Benz decides to take her husband’s car, the Benz Motorwagen, to grandmother’s house, 60 miles distant in the town of Pforzheim, on roads that were more suited for—to all intents and purposes likely made by—sheep, horses, goats, and cows. Emperor Wilhelm II and the church are not amused by the self-propelled Motorwagen, so Bertha is out to prove them wrong. Bertha and her two sons push the car out of the garage in the early morn, but as they motor along, they meet up with internal-combustion-engine problems that the ingenious Bertha—who had worked with her husband to build the car—solves: she invents the brake shoe along the way, made for her by a cobbler. Adkins tells the tale with brio and dash and illustrates it with nifty, time-gone-by details like roadside alms boxes (hello, toll roads), springs disgorging through gargoylelike face into basins to refresh weary travelers, and naphtha as fuel. The artwork is mostly pleasing, with 1888 European countrysides and villages. The characters’ faces are often obscured by hat brims; when doffed, they often reveal unsettlingly wooden expressions. The story is a hoot of ingenuity and an exhilarating tip of the hat to unsung women heroes, and Adkins has a good time telling it.

Even though grandmother meets the Motorwagen with the same disgruntlement as the emperor, everybody else cheers the contraption’s epic voyage. (timeline, schematics, afterword) (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58089-696-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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A lighthearted read that will offer comfort to young children that others too face challenges of friendship, teamwork and...

PARKER BELL AND THE SCIENCE OF FRIENDSHIP

In her debut chapter book, Platt shares the story of a young girl navigating friendships and the challenges of trying to win her school’s science triathlon.

Young Parker Bell is a curious child who loves science and aspires to match up to Mae Jemison and Jane Goodall one day. Her best friend and partner in science is coding whiz Cassie Malouf. They have been best friends since kindergarten, but Parker gets jealous when Cassie suddenly starts becoming friendly with Theo Zachary, a shy boy in their class. Parker worries that Cassie likes Theo more than her, and she fights hard to keep her friend. Matters only get worse when Cassie invites Theo to be part of their team for the science triathlon, which features a science trivia contest, an egg drop, and a presentation. In a somewhat predictable plot, Parker realizes she has a lot in common with Theo as she spends more time with him. Platt works hard to defy gender stereotypes. In addition to the girls’ STEM enthusiasm, Parker’s mom teaches phys ed, her dad owns a bakery, and Cassie’s mom teaches math. Zhai’s simple black-and-white illustrations of Parker, Cassie, and the classrooms provide a good visual aid to the story, depicting Parker and Theo as white and Cassie with dark skin and long black hair.

A lighthearted read that will offer comfort to young children that others too face challenges of friendship, teamwork and competition. (Fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-97347-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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In spite of the book’s flaws, dragons are very appealing, and tales for young audiences that model the scientific method are...

DRAGONS AND MARSHMALLOWS

From the Zoey and Sassafras series , Vol. 1

Zoey discovers that she can see magical creatures that might need her help.

That’s a good thing because her mother has been caring for the various beasts since childhood, but now she’s leaving on a business trip so the work will fall to Zoey. Most people (like Zoey’s father) can’t see the magical creatures, so Zoey, who appears in illustrations to be black, will have to experiment with their care by problem-solving using the scientific method to determine appropriate treatment and feeding. When a tiny, sick dragon shows up on her doorstep, she runs an experiment and determines that marshmallows appear to be the proper food. Unfortunately, she hadn’t done enough research beforehand to understand that although dragons might like marshmallows, they might not be the best food for a sick, fire-breathing baby. Although the incorporation of important STEM behaviors is a plus, the exposition is mildly clunky, with little character development and stilted dialogue. Many pages are dense with large-print text, related in Zoey’s not especially childlike voice. However, the inclusion in each chapter of a couple of attractive black-and-white illustrations of round-faced people and Zoey’s mischievous cat helps break up the narrative.

In spite of the book’s flaws, dragons are very appealing, and tales for young audiences that model the scientific method are nice to see. (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943147-08-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: The Innovation Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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