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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PARTS

Arnold (The Simple People, 1992, etc.) cashes in by grossing out the picture-book set in this story in rhyme, which kids with rough-and-ready sensibilities will relish and fastidious adults will shun, for the same reasons. The goggle-eyed narrator has noticed that he loses hairs, his skin peels, and a tooth is loose, not to mention his discoveries of belly-button lint and nose yuck. He comes to the alarming conclusion that he's going bald and toothless, shedding his skin, losing his stuffing, and his brains are leaking out his nose. His parents reassure him that all these lost parts renew themselves. His response: ``That's really good to hear! Then tell me, what's this yellow stuff I got out of my ear?'' Stupid, silly, and base, in equal measure, this has watercolor illustrations that are textured with colored-pencil curlicues in such a way that they look hairy—like the tangles that clog a shower drain. (Book-of-the- Month Club) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8037-2040-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1997

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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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