The action begins with a lightning strike and a wind that fells a huge old oak tree. As it decays, it becomes a place for...

AROUND ONE LOG

CHIPMUNKS, SPIDERS, AND CREEPY INSIDERS

The exploration of microhabitats continues in this sixth outing from Fredericks and DiRubbio (Under One Rock, 2001, etc.).

The action begins with a lightning strike and a wind that fells a huge old oak tree. As it decays, it becomes a place for termites, roly-polies, a salamander, a garter snake and a chipmunk to find food and shelter. The majority of the text follows a House-That-Jack-Built pattern with rhyming couplets, to mixed effect. While the repetition will help readers remember the information, that information needs to be worthy of remembering, and not all of this is: “Some daddy longlegs, like alien creatures, / Have thin spindly legs and other strange features.” The Field Notes section in the back helps readers fill in the knowledge gaps, but even these are spotty—it states that the daddy longlegs is not a spider but does not say what it is. As in the prior titles, it is DiRubbio’s artwork that is the big draw. Amazingly detailed and lifelike illustrations make it seem like the creatures will step right off the pages onto readers’ hands. At least two of the featured animals are on each page, allowing kids to get an idea of their relative sizes.

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58469-137-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dawn Publications

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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Despite minor bumps, a ride that’s worth returning to.

HOW TO CODE A ROLLERCOASTER

Pearl and her robot, Pascal, take their coding skills for a spin at the amusement park in this Girls Who Code picture book, a follow-up to How To Code a Sandcastle (2018).

The park has many rides to choose from, and Pearl has 10 tokens to last her the day. But her favorite ride, the Python roller coaster, looks busy. Pearl decides to do something else fun, using code concepts such as variables to keep track of the length of the line and her remaining tokens and a conditional statement to decide when to return to the Python. Throughout, computer science terms are defined crisply in the text and vividly illustrated in the pictures, which use images such as popcorn bags for variables and the Ferris wheel for loops (keeping track of ice cream flavors seems somewhat contrived). The backmatter explains these ideas more fully. Pascal’s too-literal interpretations of Pearl’s statements make for several amusing moments along the way. When Pearl runs short of tokens (a missed opportunity to talk about checking for more than one condition?), she’s undaunted by the disaster, taking readers on a fun hunt for a secret hidden password, in a nod to the importance of proper sequencing. Pearl has brown skin and black curls; others at the park have a variety of skin tones.

Despite minor bumps, a ride that’s worth returning to. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-425-29203-7

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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An auspicious primer on some very big numbers.

A HUNDRED BILLION TRILLION STARS

Huge numbers take on an even bigger scale in Fishman and Greenberg’s insightful, awe-inspiring picture book.

A secret shared between narrator and the reader kicks things off: “The sun is just a star. / And there are (maybe) 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars.” (Readers will be grateful for the “a hundred billion trillion” printed in the corner.) Stars too many to count, in various sizes and shapes, fill the double-page spread, illustrating the comically large number centered on the page. It’s enough to leave most flabbergasted, but Fishman aims for much more as he zeroes in on one particular blue-and-green planet. Even this celestial orb has its secrets: “Blue because it’s covered by 370,000,000,000,000,000,000 gallons of water. Green because it’s covered in 3,000,000,000,000 trees.” From there it’s all about the (innumerable) details. For example, 10 quadrillion ants may equal 7.5 billion humans in weight (as terrifying as that sounds); meanwhile, 420 million dogs or guitars lined up head to foot circle the Earth about 10 times. The figures aren’t precise, but quibbling over exactness almost misses the point of the book. A constant throughout this excursion, however, is Greenberg’s digital artwork, which features bold, thick lines, vibrant colors and shapes, and a diverse cast of nameless characters. More notable perhaps is the author’s persistent focus on the reader: “There’s only one of YOU.” Such a statement threatens to veer into ham-fisted territory, but here it serves to underline how amazing it is to be the only one.

An auspicious primer on some very big numbers. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245578-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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