Adequate from an informational standpoint: for hands-on engineering, a disappointing demonstration that less is less.

FLYING MACHINES

A brief but lucid introduction to aerodynamics, kitted up with materials for five ultralightweight flying models.

Supported by clearly labeled diagrams and cartoon portraits of typical and historical aircraft, the explanations of thrust, lift, roll, yaw, pitch and other considerations that must be taken into account when designing even the simplest fliers and gliders will give young aeronauts a good grounding in the basics. Step-by-step directions for assembling the provided models—two hand-launched gliders and three craft driven by rubber-band–powered propellers—are incorporated. Arnold goes on to a discussion of indoor vs. outdoor flights that includes a safety checklist and also suggests some experimental modifications to try out. The booklet closes with a blank “logbook” for recording the results of said experiments, followed by a pair of patterned sheets to cut out and fold into paper planes. This is all bound up with a deceptively large box in which punch-out forms on insubstantial sheets of neoprene and balsa, plus two plastic propellers and some wire, rattle around. Not only is five a paltry number next to, say, the 35 fliers for which Bobby Mercer supplies instructions (if not materials) in his Flying Machine Book (2012), but the paucity of propellers means that the models cannot all be assembled at the same time. Moreover, the balsa is unpainted, and the other pieces are colored on only one side for that extra-cheap look.

Adequate from an informational standpoint: for hands-on engineering, a disappointing demonstration that less is less. (Informational novelty/kit. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7107-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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A classic story of outsiders making friends—with a little something more.

LONG DISTANCE

After moving to a new city, a girl attends a wilderness camp to help her make new friends.

When astronomy-obsessed 9-year-old Vega’s dad Wes gets a new job, the family moves from Portland to Seattle. Vega is not happy about this change and doesn’t want to leave her best friend behind, worrying they will grow apart. Vega’s dad Javi thinks making new friends will help her adjust, so he signs her up for Camp Very Best Friend, which is designed to help introverted local children build new friendships. Vega is not exactly eager to go but makes a deal with Wes, agreeing to try out camp as long as he tries to make a new friend too. It quickly becomes clear that this is no ordinary outdoor adventure, and Vega and her fellow campers try to figure out what is really going on. The story smoothly incorporates STEM facts with insets on the page to define and highlight terms or tools. An unexpected twist toward the end of this fast-paced adventure that reveals the truth behind the camp will surprise readers. The clean, bright artwork is enhanced by panels of varying shapes and clear, easy-to-follow speech bubbles. Race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation are not explicitly addressed; characters’ names and physical appearances indicate a broadly diverse cast starting with brown-skinned Vega and her two dads.

A classic story of outsiders making friends—with a little something more. (Graphic fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5566-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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A picture-book favorite despite minor flaws? That’s a 10-4, good buddy.

TEENY TINY TRUCKS

In McCanna and Frawley’s cheery picture-book debut, miniscule vehicles drive into supersized action.

Accompanied by a bouncy rhyme, several brightly colored trucks rumble through the garden: the lead red-and-blue truck, the more feminine purple truck and the gridlock-loathing aqua truck. Though the color palette and cartoon appearance of the nameless vehicles may seem like a carbon copy of Disney’s Cars (2006), illustrator Frawley has included humorous details for each truck, giving them life beyond their big-screen predecessors. For instance, the red-and-blue truck has jaunty eyebrows created from roof lights, the purple truck’s short bursts of steam look like daisies, and the aqua truck’s expressive eyebrows are actually wiper blades. The illustrations help tell a hilarious story, most notably of a traffic jam featuring a frog, slug and worm who are clearly not amused by the crowded garden path. McCanna similarly handles the text well. The rhythmic pattern is clear, most of the rhyme is spot-on—“Teeny tiny tires. With teeny tiny treads. / Leaving teeny tiny trails between the flower beds”—and the story begs to be read aloud to a group. Typical trucker talk is included in the dialogue—“Breaker breaker, Buddy!” “What’s your twenty, Friend?”—and the lingo is explained in a short glossary at the end of the story. Though the premise is amusing, the proportion of the trucks in relation to their surroundings can be a bit inconsistent. Most images depict the trucks, which are “smaller than a dime,” as being only marginally bigger than ants and bees, yet other images portray the trucks as being much larger—almost half as long as a box of animal crackers. Nevertheless, this delightful story will charm truck-loving children.

A picture-book favorite despite minor flaws? That’s a 10-4, good buddy.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0989668811

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Bahalia Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2013

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