Beautiful but, sadly, not as immersive as Chin’s fans may hope.

GRAND CANYON

Starting from their campsite at the bottom of the 1,000-foot-deep Inner Gorge, an Asian-American child and her dad traverse three separate habitats until they arrive at the South Rim, 22 miles later.

Descriptions of the landscape, plants, and animals are provided alongside a running commentary of the geologic history of the canyon’s formation. Gorgeously detailed artwork captures this unique ecological niche’s amazing diversity of life. The borders framing most pages are filled with illustrations depicting the rock strata, flora, and fauna associated with the different elevations of the canyon. Small, shaped die-cut windows highlight fossilized trilobites, shells, and footprints and provide gateways to imaginative flashbacks to the canyon’s past, while a gatefold reveals a magnificent panoramic view of the truly grand canyon at sunset. In approaching his subject, Chin uses the relatively dry factual approach he employed in Island (2012) rather than the wonderfully successful fusion of fact and imagination he introduced in Redwoods (2009) and Coral Reefs (2011). Inexplicably, a guidebook to the Grand Canyon (this very book?) remains in the girl’s backpack—in effect relegating the child’s role to observer rather than engaged participant save for a few imaginary trips to the past. Despite the wealth of maps provided, there isn’t one clearly delineating the journey undertaken by father and daughter. Appended are comprehensive background notes, bibliography, and further reading. The in-depth information is easily accessible to curious readers of any age.

Beautiful but, sadly, not as immersive as Chin’s fans may hope. (Informational picture book. 6-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59643-950-4

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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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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