Accessible and approachable, a useful tool for science learning.

WINTER SCIENCE

From the Acadia Files series

Acadia and two friends learn more science while enjoying a Maine winter.

This is the third in a thoughtful series that began with Summer Science (2018). Like its predecessors, this combines a slight storyline with science facts, definitions, and descriptions of experiments using the scientific method. A melting snowman, a floating balloon, a paper-airplane contest, a wait outside in the cold, and a sledding challenge prompt 11-year-old Acadia’s questions, which are presented in a present-tense narrative with unlikely dialogue but realistic daily details. Her parents are always happy to help her find answers, offering clear explanations, demonstrations, and encouragement for further experimentation. This outing introduces the topics of climate change, food waste, recycling and repurposing, atoms and elements, buoyancy, aerodynamics, animal adaptations for winter, and the physics of sledding. In each chapter, the protagonists accomplish some activity, one that could be easily replicated by readers at home or in school: listing ways to reduce one’s carbon footprint or looking for animal tracks in the snow, for example. The author appends a list of helpful websites for further exploration of each topic. Acadia is pictured as pale and blonde; Joshua is darker, with straight hair, and brown-skinned Isabel wears her hair in two Afro puffs. Experiments, charts, and definitions are hand-lettered and profusely decorated with sketches, and each chapter ends with further questions.

Accessible and approachable, a useful tool for science learning. (Informational fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-88448-607-7

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph.

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WISHTREE

Generations of human and animal families grow and change, seen from the point of view of the red oak Wishing Tree that shelters them all.

Most trees are introverts at heart. So says Red, who is over 200 years old and should know. Not to mention that they have complicated relationships with humans. But this tree also has perspective on its animal friends and people who live within its purview—not just witnessing, but ultimately telling the tales of young people coming to this country alone or with family. An Irish woman named Maeve is the first, and a young 10-year-old Muslim girl named Samar is the most recent. Red becomes the repository for generations of wishes; this includes both observing Samar’s longing wish and sporting the hurtful word that another young person carves into their bark as a protest to Samar’s family’s presence. (Red is monoecious, they explain, with both male and female flowers.) Newbery medalist Applegate succeeds at interweaving an immigrant story with an animated natural world and having it all make sense. As Red observes, animals compete for resources just as humans do, and nature is not always pretty or fair or kind. This swiftly moving yet contemplative read is great for early middle grade, reluctant or tentative readers, or precocious younger students.

A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-04322-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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Readers will need to strap on their helmets and prepare for a wild ride.

WILD RIVER

Disaster overtakes a group of sixth graders on a leadership-building white-water rafting trip.

Deep in the Montana wilderness, a dam breaks, and the resultant rush sweeps away both counselors, the rafts, and nearly all the supplies, leaving five disparate preteens stranded in the wilderness far from where they were expected to be. Narrator Daniel is a mild White kid who’s resourceful and good at keeping the peace but given to worrying over his mentally ill father. Deke, also White, is a determined bully, unwilling to work with and relentlessly taunting the others, especially Mia, a Latina, who is a natural leader with a plan. Tony, another White boy, is something of a friendly follower and, unfortunately, attaches himself to Deke while Imani, a reserved African American girl, initially keeps her distance. After the disaster, Deke steals the backpack with the remaining food and runs off with Tony, and the other three resolve to do whatever it takes to get it back, eventually having to confront the dangerous bully. The characters come from a variety of backgrounds but are fairly broadly drawn; still, their breathlessly perilous situation keeps the tale moving briskly forward, with one threatening situation after another believably confronting them. As he did with Wildfire (2019), Newbery Honoree Philbrick has crafted another action tale for young readers that’s impossible to put down.

Readers will need to strap on their helmets and prepare for a wild ride. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-64727-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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