Waging peace through…science! That this debut is as funny as it is sneakily informative is icing on the cake.

PIRATE, VIKING & SCIENTIST

In a clear triumph for the scientific method, a young researcher systematically discovers how to keep his two close friends from punching each other out every time they meet.

Appropriately if stereotypically clad in a white lab coat, Scientist enjoys playing separately with his much bigger, likewise conventionally costumed buddies Viking and Pirate—but when the two come face to face at his birthday party, disaster is plainly in the offing. Time for “scientific instinct” to kick in. Hypothesis: Will cake bring the combatants together? Yes, but not in a good way. Will party games improve the outcome? Uh, no. Time for a new approach. Chapman’s narrative has an adult ring (“Viking was seething. Pirate was fuming”), but younger audiences will be hooked by the generous measures of exaggerated cartoon-style brawling. They should also come away with a greater appreciation for Scientist’s logical, nonviolent method of problem-solving. Scowls turn to smiles after a round of leading questions—“What’s your favorite way to spend Saturday mornings?” // “PILLAGING AND PLUNDERING!”—sparks a new amity founded on common interests.

Waging peace through…science! That this debut is as funny as it is sneakily informative is icing on the cake. (glossary) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-316-25389-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.

THE INVISIBLE BOY

This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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PUG BLASTS OFF

From the Diary of a Pug series , Vol. 1

A cuddly, squishy pug’s puggy-wuggy diary.

Equipped with both #pugunicorn and #pughotdog outfits, pug Baron von Bubbles (aka Bub) is the kind of dog that always dresses to impress. Bub also makes lots of memorable faces, such as the “Hey, you’re not the boss of me!” expression aimed at Duchess, the snooty pink house cat. Some of Bub’s favorite things include skateboarding, a favorite teddy, and eating peanut butter. Bub also loves Bella, who adopted Bub from a fair—it was “love at first sniff.” Together, Bub and Bella do a lot of arts and crafts. Their latest project: entering Bella’s school’s inventor challenge by making a super-duper awesome rocket. But, when the pesky neighborhood squirrel, Nutz, makes off with Bub’s bear, Bub accidentally ruins their project. How will they win the contest? More importantly, how will Bella ever forgive him? May’s cutesy, full-color cartoon art sets the tone for this pug-tastic romp for the new-to–chapter-books crowd. Emojilike faces accentuate Bub’s already expressive character design. Bub’s infectious first-person narration pushes the silly factor off the charts. In addition to creating the look and feel of a diary, the lined paper helps readers follow the eight-chapter story. Most pages have fewer than five sentences, often broken into smaller sections. Additional text appears in color-coded speech bubbles. Bella presents white.

Totes adorbs. (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-53003-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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