As inventive as Ben himself, this presentation is awash with delight and definitely makes a big splash.

BEN FRANKLIN'S BIG SPLASH

Is another picture book about Ben Franklin really needed?

The answer is yes, as unlike many of its predecessors, this one takes a fresh approach by focusing on a single childhood fascination—swimming. As a boy, Ben was unusual in that he loved to swim at a time when it was thought that swimming caused sickness. Ben's frustration was that he could not swim like a fish, and true to his nature, he searched for a solution, one that would enable him to swim like a fish. He first made swim fins out of wood and string (they looked like a painter’s palettes), then swim sandals. Emphatic, alliterative verbs accentuate both his enthusiasm and his methodical nature: “Ben SPRINTED straight to the river, STOOD on the bank, STRIPPED OFF his clothes, STRAPPED his feet into the sandals, STUCK his thumbs back in the swim fins, SPREAD his arms wide, STOMPED his feet, and SPLASHED IN.” This first discovery would lead to bigger and better scientific creations. The finely detailed ink-and-watercolor illustrations, varying type sizes and colors, and clever page design effectively and delightfully depict this significant American scientist. (Schindler deftly keeps Ben's privates underwater.) While the subtitle claims the book is “mostly true,” the backmatter provides solid information.

As inventive as Ben himself, this presentation is awash with delight and definitely makes a big splash. (author's note, timeline, sources, source notes) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-62091-446-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so...

TOUCH THE EARTH

From the Julian Lennon White Feather Flier Adventure series , Vol. 1

A pro bono Twinkie of a book invites readers to fly off in a magic plane to bring clean water to our planet’s oceans, deserts, and brown children.

Following a confusingly phrased suggestion beneath a soft-focus world map to “touch the Earth. Now touch where you live,” a shake of the volume transforms it into a plane with eyes and feathered wings that flies with the press of a flat, gray “button” painted onto the page. Pressing like buttons along the journey releases a gush of fresh water from the ground—and later, illogically, provides a filtration device that changes water “from yucky to clean”—for thirsty groups of smiling, brown-skinned people. At other stops, a tap on the button will “help irrigate the desert,” and touching floating bottles and other debris in the ocean supposedly makes it all disappear so the fish can return. The 20 children Coh places on a globe toward the end are varied of skin tone, but three of the four young saviors she plants in the flier’s cockpit as audience stand-ins are white. The closing poem isn’t so openly parochial, though it seldom rises above vague feel-good sentiments: “Love the Earth, the moon and sun. / All the children can be one.”

“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so easy to clean the place up and give everyone a drink? (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-2083-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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Adventure, humor, and smart, likable characters make for a winning chapter book.

ADA TWIST AND THE PERILOUS PANTS

From the Questioneers series , Vol. 2

Ada Twist’s incessant stream of questions leads to answers that help solve a neighborhood crisis.

Ada conducts experiments at home to answer questions such as, why does Mom’s coffee smell stronger than Dad’s coffee? Each answer leads to another question, another hypothesis, and another experiment, which is how she goes from collecting data on backyard birds for a citizen-science project to helping Rosie Revere figure out how to get her uncle Ned down from the sky, where his helium-filled “perilous pants” are keeping him afloat. The Questioneers—Rosie the engineer, Iggy Peck the architect, and Ada the scientist—work together, asking questions like scientists. Armed with knowledge (of molecules and air pressure, force and temperature) but more importantly, with curiosity, Ada works out a solution. Ada is a recognizable, three-dimensional girl in this delightfully silly chapter book: tirelessly curious and determined yet easily excited and still learning to express herself. If science concepts aren’t completely clear in this romp, relationships and emotions certainly are. In playful full- and half-page illustrations that break up the text, Ada is black with Afro-textured hair; Rosie and Iggy are white. A closing section on citizen science may inspire readers to get involved in science too; on the other hand, the “Ode to a Gas!” may just puzzle them. Other backmatter topics include the importance of bird study and the threat palm-oil use poses to rainforests.

Adventure, humor, and smart, likable characters make for a winning chapter book. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3422-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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