Denouncing past social norms, these tales are bewitching.


An anthology of diverse tales that stray away from the norm.

This collection of 13 lesser-known fairy tales from Europe and Asia begins with the Japanese tale of a boy who continually draws cats, emphasizing a hero who finds his artistic ability and the life it creates. From Germany, the tale of six brothers who turn into swans and their sister who saves them by not speaking for years presents a different kind of heroine, with patience and quiet strength. “The One-Handed Murderer,” from Italy, is a tale of a strong, independent woman who saves herself from the titular villain. The words of these tales create enthralling images, transporting readers to earlier times and enchanted worlds. Editor Funke introduces the collection, explaining her attraction to the darker, unorthodox stories. Refreshingly, many of these tales differ from the more famous ones that follow a patriarchal, middle-class view. Each story has its rebellious hero or heroine and an atypical happy ending. After each tale, Funke explains why she loves it or how it shaped her novels. Giving context to the periods and countries of the tales, she critically analyzes and reflects on their conveyed social values.

Denouncing past social norms, these tales are bewitching. (Folktales. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78269-200-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Pushkin Press

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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An ambitious coder’s new best friend



A kids’ guide to coding simple games using CSS and JavaScript.

The multiethnic group of Ruby, Markus, Grace, Rusty, and their cat mascot, Scratch, invites readers to help them as they prepare five different games for a hackathon in which they will compete against their rival, SaberTooth Studios. The types of games are tic-tac-toe (called “noughts and crosses,” to align with the British creator’s website), a snake game, table tennis, an endless-runner game similar to Temple Run, and a side-scrolling platformer (think: Super Mario). Each lesson takes readers through it one game component at a time, ultimately building the code to double-page spreads that display the full code for each game at the end of its chapter. These lessons do a good job of contextualizing and explaining how the code functions as well as showing how much code goes into even the most basic of games. The Get Coding website is also referenced throughout as a resource for the activities and a source for some components of the final game (the shortest chapter of the book). The hackathon storyline, however, feels tacked on and provides little benefit—the premise is repeated a couple of times and then resolves off-page between chapters 4 and 5. The design helps break down explanatory text and walls of code into manageable chunks (though the escalating complexity of code may intimidate some beginners), and the illustrations will be full color. Along with an index, there’s an introduction with an efficient history of computer games.

An ambitious coder’s new best friend . (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1030-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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An inviting alternative to utilitarian workbooks, but full of transparent contrivances.


In a labored follow-up to his Book of Potentially Catastrophic Science (2010), Connolly offers 24 hazardous scenarios that require math and logic skills to escape.

Introductions to each chapter specify which “Survival Strategies”—ranging from “Operations and Algebraic Thinking” to “Geometry” and “Expressions and Equations”—will be exercised. The author then plants readers beneath a bladed pendulum, imprisons them in an ancient tomb with coded directions to a hidden exit, charges them with stringing a fiber-optic cable around the Earth before a giant asteroid hits, challenges them to get three people across a rope bridge in the dark with but one flashlight and so on. Though he provides blank work pages for do-it-yourselfers, he also lays out every significant component of each problem and places step-by-step solution immediately adjacent. These are accompanied by “Math Lab” projects that require similar skills in more real-world settings and occasional number tricks. Dramatic and varied as the situations are, they’re never more than thinly disguised exercises, because nearly every one depends on a rat chewing through a rope in exactly one minute, the bus getting precisely 17 miles to the gallon, an astronaut’s heartbeat never varying from 72 beats per minute or other arbitrarily fixed values.

An inviting alternative to utilitarian workbooks, but full of transparent contrivances. (Nonfiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7611-6374-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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