MIN MAKES A MACHINE

From the I Like To Read series

This early reader has a resourceful elephant girl at its center.

The story follows the same characters introduced in McCully’s 3, 2, 1, Go! (2015), in which the protagonist builds a catapult. Here Min, an anthropomorphic elephant child, wants to play, but her friends, Bess and Ann (also elephants), are too hot to join her. First Min tries to cool them off with a leafy branch she calls a fan, which she waves with her trunk. This doesn’t work, and so she goes in search of water to fill an emptied, abandoned swimming pool. Undeterred when the only water to be found is at the bottom of a deep well, she coils a long hose around a pipe and secures it with some glue to build the eponymous “machine” that draws water from the well to the conveniently located swimming pool. The story, which is dedicated to “all problem-solving girls,” concludes with the friends joyfully splashing in the pool. Unfortunately, nowhere is the device Min builds identified as an Archimedes screw, which seems like an oversight since even a brief front- or backmatter explanation would enrich the book as a whole. But, the controlled text and lively watercolor illustrations will engage young readers learning to independently decode text and just might inspire some to build their own machines, too.

STEAM-y early-reader fun. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3970-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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Purposeful, but saved from didacticism by the sheer exuberance of the illustrations; the accessible text introduces the idea...

SAME, SAME BUT DIFFERENT

Although today’s kids usually communicate through texting or email, Elliot from the United States and Kailash from India use pictures and a few simple sentences to exchange information about their lives. 

Their teachers facilitate the snail mailing of pictorial letters, just as the author-illustrator did when she visited Nepal, which provided the inspiration for this book. The title, also used as a refrain throughout the book, is a popular saying in India and Nepal, heard by Kostecki-Shaw when she traveled there. Elliot and Kailash explore their similarities and differences, concluding that their lives are “Different, different but the SAME!” The engaging childlike acrylic paintings with crayon, pencil, tissue paper and other collage elements show the busy crowded American streets of Elliot’s city, the traditional buildings of Kailash’s riverside village, the taxis and buses in the States and the taxis and camel-pulled carts in India. The English alphabet is reproduced on wide-ruled notebook paper and the Hindi alphabet (unfortunately unidentified) on a small slate, and both typical American pets (dog and fish) and a whole farmyard of Indian animals appear. Both kids live unusually low-tech lives (no computers or cell phones in sight), but they each enjoy learning about their pen pal’s world.

Purposeful, but saved from didacticism by the sheer exuberance of the illustrations; the accessible text introduces the idea of traditional two-way communication and demonstrates just how small our world can be. (Picture book. 5-7) 

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8946-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

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An early reader that kids will want to befriend.

NOT ME!

In an odd-couple pairing of Bear and Chipmunk, only one friend is truly happy to spend the day at the beach.

“Not me!” is poor Chipmunk’s lament each time Bear expresses the pleasure he takes in sunning, swimming, and other activities at the beach. While controlled, repetitive text makes the story accessible to new readers, slapstick humor characterizes the busy watercolor-and-ink illustrations and adds interest. Poor Chipmunk is pinched by a crab, buried in sand, and swept upside down into the water, to name just a few mishaps. Although other animal beachgoers seem to notice Chipmunk’s distress, Bear cheerily goes about his day and seems blithely ignorant of his friend’s misfortunes. The playful tone of the illustrations helps soften the dynamic so that it doesn’t seem as though Chipmunk is in grave danger or that Bear is cruel. As they leave at the end of the book Bear finally asks, “Why did you come?” and Chipmunk’s sweet response caps off the day with a warm sunset in the background.

An early reader that kids will want to befriend. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3546-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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