There’s so much actual information here that the story could pass as a textbook, but science and Scieszka fans won't likely...

FRANK EINSTEIN AND THE ELECTRO-FINGER

From the Frank Einstein series , Vol. 2

Kid genius Frank Einstein's back for a second shocking (and silly) science adventure.

While his parents travel around the world, Frank stays with Grampa Al and conducts science investigations with his human friend Watson and his two robot buddies, smart, literal Klink and music-loving, hug-addicted Klank. While Watson tries to perfect his pea shooter, Frank and the robots learn about forces and energy, Newton and Tesla, and they invent a wireless electricity generator. This is a good thing, since evil, not-quite-as-much-of-a-kid-genius T. Edison and his sidekick, er, partner, Mr. Chimp, are buying up and destroying various types of power plants in order to create a monopoly for their hydroelectric dam. Can Frank and his pals stop Edison, or is Midville doomed to have its own energy crisis? Scieszka's second of six science-themed tales is more fact than fiction in the first half. The science-saturated storyline is buoyed by occasional jokes and a plethora of humorous two-color illustrations and diagrams by Biggs. Once the action begins, it doesn’t stop (except for the jokes). Amusing and informative aftermatter includes more science facts and recipes, poetry and experiments, as well as a guide to ASL’s manual alphabet (Mr. Chimp communicates with sign). Final art not seen.

There’s so much actual information here that the story could pass as a textbook, but science and Scieszka fans won't likely mind. (Science fiction/humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 17, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1483-2

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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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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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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