Infectiously enthusiastic but more elementary of look than content, with a hard-to-determine audience.

MESMERIZING MATH

This lightning-quick overview of select mathematical topics doesn’t add up to anything useful.

The jumbles of cartoon images—many with flaps or, less often, a spinner or other add-on—begin on a hard-to-follow contents map. They then continue in successive single spreads to illustrate surveys of numbers, geometry, probability, mathematical transformations, measurement, statistics and numerical sequences. Skipping such basics as addition and subtraction, Litton immediately plunges into squares and square roots, primes and powers, negative numbers, triangular numbers, zero, infinity, fractions, percentages and decimals in a dizzying whirl that will quickly leave math tyros behind. On the other hand, even budding math geeks won’t bring much away from his simplistic claim that “[m]ost numbers can be broken down into smaller numbers called factors” or a description of decimal places without clear examples. The discourse is likewise overcompressed on subsequent pages, ending with an array of sequences ranging from Fibonacci numbers and Pascal’s triangle to how many times a 16-square length of toilet paper can be folded in half. That isn’t the only case of mission creep, as glances elsewhere at optical illusions and at the hazards of slanted survey questions demonstrate. Furthermore, two punch-out models make this problematic for libraries.

Infectiously enthusiastic but more elementary of look than content, with a hard-to-determine audience. (Informational pop-up. 8-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6881-5

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.

WAYSIDE SCHOOL BENEATH THE CLOUD OF DOOM

Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Yasmin’s campaign should help inspire young readers to believe in their own potential to make a difference and teach the...

BOOK UNCLE AND ME

When her source of books is threatened, so is 9-year-old Yasmin’s goal of reading a book a day “forever.”

The inspiration behind and assistant to her in that goal is Book Uncle, owner of a free lending library on the street corner where she lives. His motto is to provide the “right book for the right person for the right day.” When Book Uncle is forced to shut down his lending library because he can’t afford the permit, Yasmin is disappointed and confused. She is then motivated to try and get the lending library back in business and enlists the help of her friends and then their larger neighborhood. All this happens amid a mayoral election, which provides the perfect background for the plot. Yasmin is a precocious, inquisitive protagonist with a tendency to speak before she thinks. Her relationships with her family and friends read as authentic and loving, even, and perhaps especially, in the moments when they are not perfect. This all lays the foundation for the community organizing that later becomes so necessary in effecting the change that Yasmin seeks to make. Swaney’s playful, childlike illustrations advance the action and help to bring Yasmin’s Indian city to life.

Yasmin’s campaign should help inspire young readers to believe in their own potential to make a difference and teach the valuable lesson that sometimes it takes several small actions to make big moves. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-55498-808-2

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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