Reviews for What Floats in a Moat?

Booklist Reviews 2013 August #1
Archie the goat and Skinny the hen are pushing a cart piled high with goods, including barrels of buttermilk, toward a castle. They're stopped by the moat. Sure, they could use the drawbridge, but Archie is determined to find another way across. First, they construct a boat out of one of the buttermilk barrels, and it sinks. Next, Archie has Skinny drink all the buttermilk in the second barrel (with a lot of burping and sudden fattening on Skinny's part), after which Archie launches the empty barrel; it floats, but the goat falls off. Finally, they try a half-full barrel and sail the SS Ballast across the moat. The pig queen upbraids Archie for not using the drawbridge, which undercuts the "use science" message. In fact, the text on the whole is a bit strained, though Cordell's goofy, wide-eyed watercolors keep things nicely afloat. An author's note explains Archie's namesake as Archimedes and walks the reader through the scientist's famous water displacement discovery. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2014 Spring
A goat and a hen must cross a moat to deliver goods to the queen. But how? "Science!" Their amusing attempts to get a barrel to serve as their boat guide readers through the concept of buoyancy. The determined goat and the good-sport hen's rhyming banter is comical, and their earnest efforts are humorously captured in Cordell's cartoon illustrations.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 May #2
Silly meets science in this title inspired by Archimedes' principle. Archie (get it?) the goat and Skinny the hen need to deliver three barrels of buttermilk to the queen--a pig who looks like she might have come from the pen of Steig himself--in her moated castle. Rejecting the drawbridge in the name of "Science!" they embark on a process of trial and error to float the barrels across the moat. While this may not be much of an elevator pitch, this story sure does make for a terrific picture-book read, due in large part to the hilarity of Cordell's watercolor illustrations embellished with pen and ink. Archie first tries to float on a full barrel of buttermilk, but it sinks. Undeterred, he tells Skinny to drink the buttermilk from the second barrel. She does and, not so skinny any longer, heaves the empty barrel with Archie upon it into the water. This one does float, but unsteadily so. The third try is a charm as Skinny drains just half of its buttermilk, creating a seaworthy vessel. The queen pig is none too pleased to have five-sixths of her buttermilk in either the moat or the hen, but it was all "in the name of science," explains the placid Archie as a bloated Skinny belches her affirmation. A goofy romp that will fit right in with elementary school science lessons. (author's note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 April #5

Archie, a goat, and Skinny, a chicken, are trying to reach a castle. The castle has a moat around it, and Skinny suggests the obvious: "We could just take the drawbridge." Archie, whose knight's helmet gives him an air of crusading zeal, has bigger plans. "This is a time for science!" he proclaims. Berry (Ducking for Apples) spins her tale with lighthearted, Gilbert and Sullivan-style patter: " ‘To cross the moat,' pronounced the goat, ‘we build a contraption to float!' " Experimenting with barrels and different quantities of buttermilk--Skinny reluctantly guzzling the excess--the two discover that a full barrel will sink, an empty barrel will roll, but a boat built from a half-empty barrel (the "S.S. Ballast") will sail. The process of discovery entertains throughout, aided by Cordell's (Hello! Hello!) loopy ink-and-wash vignettes, which he enlivens with hand-lettered "klunks" and "splashes." Incidentally, Berry's exposition of Archimedean discoveries about the displacement of water gives the scientific process of trial-and-error genuine drama. Mostly, though, it's a highly enjoyable read-aloud whose characters are both eccentric and loveable. Ages 5-9. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (July)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 June

K-Gr 3--In the tradition of classic cartoon-art picture books, this gem tells a fun, slapstick story while teaching the basic physics of buoyancy and Archimedes's principle. Archie the Goat wants to devise a method of crossing the moat to the castle. His friend Skinny the Hen suggests simply taking the drawbridge, but Archie prefers a challenge and sets out to build a contraption to float. The entertaining spot art done with pen-and-ink and watercolor is full of energy and movement, drawing out the humor in the punchy text. Using barrels of buttermilk, Archie tries to make it across the moat. All day and into the night, much puzzling and experimenting results in a dripping goat and a far less skinny hen. Finally, Archie gets it right and floats across to meet a very frustrated porcine queen who wants to know what happened to the rest of her buttermilk. An author's note further explains buoyancy and wonderful barrel endpapers complete the package. This story will liven up any science class and also hold its own as a spirited pleasure read.--Julie Roach, Cambridge Public Library, MA

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