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 may spark a few imaginations, but its lack of directions and the difficulty level of most of the projects—not to...

WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH ONLY ONE SHOE?

REUSE, RECYCLE, REINVENT

Readers learn how to “Reuse, Recycle, Reinvent” what some might call trash into treasures.  

Rhyming poems each introduce a single way to reuse/reinvent something: A toilet becomes a planter, the titular shoe morphs into a birdhouse, a (very large, nonstandard) light bulb houses a fish, and favorite jeans that are holey? They become a new purse. The most creative has to be a table supported by a pitchfork: “If you’re wanting to picnic on uneven ground, / where your table’s unstable or up on a mound, / stop and think! Be creative! The answer’s around.” While cans, wood and wire are both easily found and transformed into musical instruments, not all these projects use such common materials or are as simple to complete: Half of a boat turns into a covered bench, a car becomes a bed, and a grocery cart transforms into a chair. And although it’s neat to see a farmer’s new watering trough (an enormous tire) and a community’s new playground (an old ambulance anchors it), these are not projects that are likely to fire readers up to do similar things. Cartoon spot illustrations share space with photographs of the new inventions, and both are needed to make sense of the poems.

This may spark a few imaginations, but its lack of directions and the difficulty level of most of the projects—not to mention its failure to impart reasons for reducing, reusing and recycling—make this one to skip. (Poetry. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55451-642-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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If this book were a pizza, young readers would gobble down every slice—and demand more for dessert.

IF

A MIND-BENDING NEW WAY OF LOOKING AT BIG IDEAS AND NUMBERS

Continuing his exploration of the mind-expanding possibilities of scale modeling, Smith extends the premise of If America Were a Village (2009) to encompass life, time and the universe.

Following a well-taken note that his comparisons are mostly approximations, the author proposes thinking of Earth’s life span as a month, all wealth as 100 coins and 14 similar transformations designed to make incomprehensibly huge numbers or measurements at least theoretically graspable. The trick doesn’t always work (“If the Milky Way galaxy were shrunk to the size of a dinner plate...,” the visible universe “would be about the size of Belgium”), but it does offer readers a chance to think of time, for instance, in terms of days or minutes instead of millions of years. Better yet, Adams’ painted infographics offer literal visualizations of the planets as balls of different sizes, of where inventions from fire to smartphones would lie relative to one another along a ruler or tape measure, and how many “slices” of our life are consumed in sleeping—if our life were a pizza. In a closing note addressed to adults, the author suggests further scaling and numeracy-building exercises.

If this book were a pizza, young readers would gobble down every slice—and demand more for dessert. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-894786-34-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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