This personal look at a popular subject is sure to please. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

MONSTER HUNT

EXPLORING MYSTERIOUS CREATURES WITH JIM ARNOSKY

Stating that “[t]oday's mystery could be tomorrow's science,” a veteran wildlife observer ponders the existence of such legendary creatures as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster.

Arnosky’s introduction provides a scientific name for the search for animals whose existence is unproven—cryptozoology. In brief chapters, he discusses giant sharks called charcharodon, thought to be extinct; giant squids or kraken, only recently discovered in the ocean depths; Bigfoot and similar creatures that might lurk in North American forests; and the Loch Ness monster, a possible plesiosaur still surviving in Scotland. But the meat of this latest title is his description of an expedition with his wife and three grandsons to search the depths of Lake Champlain for “Champ,” a plesiosaurlike reptile possibly living in the waters between New York and Vermont. Realistic paintings spread across the gutters, bounded with a totemlike border made up of further relevant images in natural colors. For example, alongside an illustration of a silverback gorilla (thought to be imaginary until the 19th century), the border depicts a coelacanth and a Komodo dragon. Double-page spreads indicate changing sections. Straddling the line between acceptance and disbelief, the naturalist leaves the question of Champ’s existence open for readers, reminding them that when science solves one mystery, another may appear.  

This personal look at a popular subject is sure to please. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4231-3028-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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THE JUNKYARD WONDERS

Trisha is ready to start at a new school, where no one will know she has dyslexia. At first, she is heartbroken to be in Miss Peterson’s special-ed class, aka, “the junkyard.” But Miss Peterson treats the children as anything but junk, showing them that everyone has a unique talent. Polacco’s trademark style is fully present here; her sensitively drawn alter ego shines with depth of feeling. When bullying occurs, Miss Peterson proves her students are worthwhile by planning a junkyard field trip, where they find valuable objects to be used in exciting ways. Trisha’s group repairs a plane, and the class buys an engine for it. Then a beloved class member dies, and the children must find a way to honor him. While the plot meanders somewhat, the characters are appealing, believable and provide a fine portrayal of a truly special class. Children will be drawn in by the story’s warmth and gentle humor and will leave with a spark of inspiration, an appreciation of individual differences and a firm anti-bullying message, all underscored by the author’s note that concludes the book. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-399-25078-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2010

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LIKE PICKLE JUICE ON A COOKIE

When Bibi, her first and favorite babysitter, moves away, it takes all of August for 8-year-old Eleanor to get beyond her sense of loss and get used to a new caretaker. Her parents grieve, too; her mother even takes some time off work. But, as is inevitable in a two-income family, eventually a new sitter appears. Natalie is sensible and understanding. They find new activities to do together, including setting up a lemonade stand outside Eleanor’s Brooklyn apartment building, waiting for Val, the mail carrier, and taking pictures of flowers with Natalie’s camera. Gradually Eleanor adjusts, September comes, her new teacher writes a welcoming letter, her best friend returns from summer vacation and third grade starts smoothly. Best of all, Val brings a loving letter from Bibi in Florida. While the story is relatively lengthy, each chapter is a self-contained episode, written simply and presented in short lines, accessible to those still struggling with the printed word. Cordell’s gray-scale line drawings reflect the action and help break up the text on almost every page. This first novel is a promising debut. Eleanor’s concerns, not only about her babysitter, but also about playmates, friends and a new school year will be familiar to readers, who will look forward to hearing more about her life. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8109-8424-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011

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