Kids interested in cities and transport as well as fans of Richard Scarry–like busyness will be busy with this book for many...

THE WAY DOWNTOWN

ADVENTURES IN PUBLIC TRANSIT

Zoom is an imaginary, probably North American city with a diverse population and many public-transportation options.

Among its inhabitants and visitors are: four didgeridoo-playing street-performing siblings called the Zanies; Robbie, a first-grade photographer visiting his aunt; Agent Rybka, a white spy; Boris, a guide dog who leads his blind friend, Guy; and scientist Dr. Brody. Agent Rybka, Dr. Brody, and Guy all appear to be white; the Zanies and Robbie have brown skin. The named characters take various forms of transportation to their destination: Great Park. Dr. Brody takes a ferry to work with bike rides bookending the short voyage. Bike lanes and the bike-sharing system are explained. Robbie and his aunt take the bus to the subway. Agent Rybka, eluding people, takes an unusual route involving railroad trains and subways. The Zanies use their unicycles and the subway. They explain tickets and transit passes. Boris and Guy ride the light rail (defined in the extensive glossary), which has a Braille schedule. Everyone arrives in the park, including two strange creatures discovered by Dr. Brody in China. Very busy pen-and-ink–and-digital illustrations in a naïve style include maps, flow charts showing each character’s itinerary, cartoon panels (with speech balloons), and large double-page spreads. Lots of labeling and funny details keep readers poring over the pictures and make this book best for small groups or individual use. The text sometimes attempts too much in its complicated interweaving of human stories and transportation systems, but there’s much useful information to be absorbed.

Kids interested in cities and transport as well as fans of Richard Scarry–like busyness will be busy with this book for many readings. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77138-552-7

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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This bare-bones action version lacks emotional and character depth but still delivers a gripping tale.

A STORM TOO SOON

A REMARKABLE TRUE SURVIVAL STORY IN 80-FOOT SEAS

From the True Rescue series

An adaptation of the 2016 young readers’ edition of the 2013 book for adults, all of the same title, with the addition of black-and-white illustrations.

Aimed at a younger readership than the earlier adaptation, this version further simplifies the plot but not the language, since some of it is taken nearly verbatim from the 2016 story. Tougias has highlighted the action part for this adaptation, presenting a much shorter version that forgoes character development and emotional depth. In this tale based on a true event, three men set out from Florida to sail to France in May 2007. They haven’t met prior to the planned crossing, but the crew, Rudy and Ben, are impressed with the 44-foot Sean Seamour II and its captain/owner, JP, who is experienced and well prepared (a point that comes across better in the 2016 book—this one makes him seem somewhat incompetent). Unfortunately, all the preparation in the world doesn’t help the sailors when they collide with a fierce storm. The yacht is overcome by the incredible 80-foot waves, and the men take to the tiny inflatable life raft, hoping for rescue. Nautical terms and land terms are interchanged: Sometimes it’s “knots,” sometimes it’s “miles per hour”; a character’s “raincoat” becomes “foul weather gear”—inconsistencies that are confusing. Geyer’s black-and-white woodcut-style illustrations, reminiscent of early illustrated action stories, bring the narrative into the realm of timeless adventure stories. Series companion The Finest Hours, an adaptation of the 2014 young readers’ edition of Tougias and Casey Sherman’s 2009 title for adults, publishes simultaneously.

This bare-bones action version lacks emotional and character depth but still delivers a gripping tale. (author’s note, photo gallery, glossary) (Adventure. 7-9)

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-13756-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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Young makers will find the Scrap Pack’s enthusiasm infectious, but even as broad overviews, these offer at best incomplete...

HOW TO BUILD A CAR

From the Technical Tales series

A mouse, a bird, and a junkyard frog assemble a car from the ground up—cluing in readers who may be a bit vague on what’s beneath all those hoods…or at least what used to be.

Enlisting his green buddy Hank to supply the parts and feathered Phoebe to draw up the plans, Eli, “king of crazy ideas,” sees his latest project grow from a frame and some miscellaneous loose parts to a nifty blue convertible with a classic 1950s look. At each stage, Sodomka supplies clearly drawn angled or cutaway views with dozens of major components labeled, from “steering knuckle bracket” to “tie rod” and “ball joint.” The gas tank is labeled but seems to be missing, though, and readers who want to know what a “differential” actually does or the purpose of the “indicator switch” are out of luck. Lacey’s claim that an engine “is like the brain of the car” doesn’t bear close examination, either. Moreover, the finished auto isn’t much like most modern cars, as it has no electronic elements, for instance, and is powered by a three-cylinder engine (misleadingly billed as “regular”) quaintly fed by a long-obsolescent carburetor. With an auto under their belts (and with similar oversimplification), Eli’s “Scrap Pack” goes on to an even more ambitious enterprise in How to Build a Plane. In both volumes, closer looks at selected systems or related topics follow the storyline’s happy conclusion, and each broad trial-and-error step in the construction is recapped at the end.

Young makers will find the Scrap Pack’s enthusiasm infectious, but even as broad overviews, these offer at best incomplete pictures. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63322-041-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Quarto

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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