THE SKULL ALPHABET BOOK

Pallotta continues his series of scientifically oriented alphabets (The Jet Alphabet Book, 1999, etc.), with this skillfully illustrated volume focused on mammal skulls as the underlying structure. Each page shows one animal skull, with a paragraph of often humorous, always interesting text that offers information about skull anatomy, similarities and differences between mammals, and scientific “detective work.” The mammal names are left for the reader to guess from clues in the text and illustrations, with some animals quite easy to guess, and others requiring much more effort from the organ encased in the human skull. Masiello’s (The Flag We Love, 2000, etc.) striking paintings show each skull in a related environment (a fox skull in a henhouse, for example), with appropriate flora and fauna clues (ants crawling on an anteater skull, a bamboo stalk in the jaw of the panda bear’s skull). On most pages there is another challenge for junior science detectives: skillfully hidden within the illustrations are one or more heads of the presidents (famous human skulls of a sort). Both the presidential names and the mammal names are included on an answer page, but it’s left up to each reader’s brainpower to match the names with the appropriate illustrations. This answer page, which also includes some nonmammal skulls, is oddly placed near the end of the alphabet rather than at the end of the volume. Touches of offbeat humor are found throughout, showing that for those who use their heads, science can be both educational and fun. (Picture book/nonfiction. 4-9)

Pub Date: July 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-88106-914-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2002

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THE BOY WHO LOVED WORDS

A charmingly prolix tall tale of a boy so word-obsessed that he collects new words on slips of paper. They bulge from his pockets, float around his head and fill his world. Classmates nickname Selig “Wordsworth” and give him a word for his collection: “oddball.” The discovery that his purpose in life is to share his carefully chosen words with others leads to success and love. And, “if, one day, . . . the perfect word just seems to come to you . . . you’ll know that Selig is near.” Schotter’s words are enlivened by Potter’s distinctively naïve figures, all placed in settings in which words and labels are scattered about in a way that invites close inspection and promotes purposeful inquiry. It all adds up to an *exultant encounter, chockablock with tintinnabulating gusto (*see tantalizing glossary appended). A gift to precocious children and teachers as well. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 28, 2006

ISBN: 0-375-83601-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2006

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Whether in hand or on shelf, this one’s sure to make a splash anywhere and everywhere.

I'M ON IT!

From the Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! series

A frog tries to do everything a goat does, too.

Goat asks Frog to look at them before declaring “I’m ON it!” while balancing atop a tree stump near a pond. After an “Oooh!” and a “You know what?” Frog leaps off their lily pad to balance on a rock: “I’m on it, too!” Goat grabs a prop so that they can be both “on it AND beside it.” (It may take young readers a little bit to realize there are two its.) So does Frog. The competition continues as Frog struggles to mimic overconfident Goat’s antics. In addition to on and beside, the pair adds inside, between, under, and more. Eventually, it all gets to be too much for Frog to handle, so Frog falls into the water, resumes position on the lily pad, and declares “I am OVER it” while eating a fly. In an act of solidarity, Goat jumps in, too. In Tsurumi’s first foray into early readers she pares down her energetic, colorful cartoon style to the bare essentials without losing any of the madcap fun. Using fewer than 80 repeated words (over 12 of which are prepositions), the clever text instructs, delights, and revels in its own playfulness. Color-coded speech bubbles (orange for Goat, green for Frog) help match the dialogue with each speaker. Like others in the Elephant & Piggie Like Reading series, Elephant and Piggie metafictively bookend the main narrative with hilariously on-the-nose commentary.

Whether in hand or on shelf, this one’s sure to make a splash anywhere and everywhere. (Early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-06696-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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