Though perhaps more playful than practical, the concept will help new readers and new English language learners conquer some...

P IS FOR PTERODACTYL

THE WORST ALPHABET BOOK EVER

This atypical alphabet book humorously addresses “mischievous words” that ignore the rules of phonetics and spelling.

Silent letters can be confusing when trying to sound out difficult words. The book’s initial advice is to “just ignore that pesky first letter and sound out the rest of the word.” Examples of these include “bdellium,” “czar,” and “Djibouti.” The silent “n” in words such as “autumn” and “solemn” is also pointed out. Each letter’s sample is illustrated with cartoony, full-color drawings followed by a comically absurd sentence highlighting other examples. “G is for Gnocchi. / The gnome yells, ‘Waiter! There’s a bright white gnat nibbling on my gnocchi!’ ” A helpful glossary with pronunciation guide and a few additional factoids explains the thorny or strange words. Some of the letter/sound examples do stretch the theme and, while funny, may create some confusion. “L is not for Elle” talks about the “el train halfway to El Paso”; “R is not for Are” reviews the stereotypically British elision of R’s in such words as “butterfly,” “shark,” or “lizard”; and “V is for Five” is about roman numerals (“How Roman-tic!”). The cartoons are populated by animals and humans who represent a variety of skin tones.

Though perhaps more playful than practical, the concept will help new readers and new English language learners conquer some of the more peculiar aspects of our language. (Picture book. 7-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7431-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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This can’t be the last we ever hear of the Legendary Alston Boys of the purely surreal Logan County—imaginative,...

THE LAST LAST-DAY-OF-SUMMER

From the Legendary Alston Boys series , Vol. 1

Can this really be the first time readers meet the Legendary Alston Boys of Logan County? Cousins and veteran sleuths Otto and Sheed Alston show us that we are the ones who are late to their greatness.

These two black boys are coming to terms with the end of their brave, heroic summer at Grandma’s, with a return to school just right around the corner. They’ve already got two keys to the city, but the rival Epic Ellisons—twin sisters Wiki and Leen—are steadily gaining celebrity across Logan County, Virginia, and have in hand their third key to the city. No way summer can end like this! These young people are powerful, courageous, experienced adventurers molded through their heroic commitment to discipline and deduction. They’ve got their shared, lifesaving maneuvers committed to memory (printed in a helpful appendix) and ready to save any day. Save the day they must, as a mysterious, bendy gentleman and an oversized, clingy platypus have been unleashed on the city of Fry, and all the residents and their belongings seem to be frozen in time and place. Will they be able to solve this one? With total mastery, Giles creates in Logan County an exuberant vortex of weirdness, where the commonplace sits cheek by jowl with the utterly fantastic, and populates it with memorable characters who more than live up to their setting.

This can’t be the last we ever hear of the Legendary Alston Boys of the purely surreal Logan County—imaginative, thrill-seeking readers, this is a series to look out for. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-46083-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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A quick and comical gallop into the world of ideas.

WHY DO THINGS HAVE NAMES?

From the Plato & Co. series

Imported from France, Platonic realism for preteens, introduced by the great philosopher himself.

“Why is a horse called a horse” instead of, say, a giraffe? Or, for that matter, “flapdoodle”? Just to keep this all as far as possible from becoming a weighty discourse, a toga-clad, woolly-bearded White gent—plainly a philosopher—leads a Socratic-style enquiry loosely based on the Cratylus dialogue that sets up and culminates in an elaborate, fantastic pun. He then goes on to explain that “Plato” is a nickname that translates (very freely) as “Muscleman” and challenges readers to find out where their own names come from. Shibuya’s illustrations helpfully sustain the tone with images of onlookers in antique dress and vaguely Grecian settings along with various creatures led by a smirking horse, all set amid multiple flaps, small pop-ups, die-cut holes, and, at the end, a foil mirror. An attempt to make the point that “horse” is not a universal term goes off the rails, being both confusingly phrased and illustrated with a group of riders clad in stereotypical Native American and like ethnic garb. Otherwise, following Ronan de Calan and Donatien Mary’s The Ghost of Karl Marx, translated by Anna Street (2015), and other entries in the Plato & Co. series, this outing may dip barely a toe into its philosophical waters but does at least begin to demystify them. Stylized human figures throughout show mild differentiation in racial presentation and body type.

A quick and comical gallop into the world of ideas. (Informational novelty. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-3-0358-0275-7

Page Count: 42

Publisher: Diaphanes/Univ. of Chicago

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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