This alphabet scavenger hunt will intrigue adults perhaps more than kids, but it’s fascinating and extremely inventive.

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ABC

THE ALPHABET FROM THE SKY

This alphabet book takes the ABCs to new heights—literally.

Aerial color photographs from the United States Geologic Survey offer a bird’s-eye view of various places in the United States from high above, letters of the alphabet “hiding” among the panoramic scenes. On the lower-right corner of each double-page spread is a square inset that identifies the location and map coordinates. For example, the A spread depicts Lake Worth, Florida, from above, an A-shaped subdivision just right of center. In the inset, a white map of the United States sits on a yellow field with a black dot to locate the town; city and state information is also printed, along with geographical data (N 26.5702 and W80.1904). Alphabet letters can be found in the many shapes: subdivisions and single buildings, roads and a power corridor, an island, a golf course, and bodies of water. Some letters jump out more than others, presenting readers with varying challenges. The page composition places a question at the top left as a prompt: “can you spot the A?” The type is a nice, clean Ariel Bold. This concept is an attention-grabbing blend of Stephen Johnson’s Alphabet City (1995) and Roxie Munro’s books of mazes that only the combination of a computational designer (Gross) and a geographer (Lee) could create. Backmatter includes a photo legend that reveals the letters plus two spreads of additional letters without identification, “just for fun.”

This alphabet scavenger hunt will intrigue adults perhaps more than kids, but it’s fascinating and extremely inventive. (Picture book. 5 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-99581-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Price Stern Sloan

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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Moving and poetic.

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PAX

A motherless boy is forced to abandon his domesticated fox when his father decides to join soldiers in an approaching war.

Twelve-year-old Peter found his loyal companion, Pax, as an orphaned kit while still grieving his own mother’s death. Peter’s difficult and often harsh father said he could keep the fox “for now” but five years later insists the boy leave Pax by the road when he takes Peter to his grandfather’s house, hundreds of miles away. Peter’s journey back to Pax and Pax’s steadfastness in waiting for Peter’s return result in a tale of survival, intrinsic connection, and redemption. The battles between warring humans in the unnamed conflict remain remote, but the oncoming wave of deaths is seen through Pax’s eyes as woodland creatures are blown up by mines. While Pax learns to negotiate the complications of surviving in the wild and relating to other foxes, Peter breaks his foot and must learn to trust a seemingly eccentric woman named Vola who battles her own ghosts of war. Alternating chapters from the perspectives of boy and fox are perfectly paced and complementary. Only Peter, Pax, Vola, and three of Pax’s fox companions are named, conferring a spare, fablelike quality. Every moment in the graceful, fluid narrative is believable. Klassen’s cover art has a sense of contained, powerful stillness. (Interior illustrations not seen.)

Moving and poetic. (Animal fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-237701-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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Cool and stylish.

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ADA TWIST, SCIENTIST

Her intellectual curiosity is surpassed only by her passion for science. But what to do about her messy experiments?

Ada is speechless until she turns 3. But once she learns how to break out of her crib, there’s no stopping the kinky-haired, brown-skinned girl. “She tore through the house on a fact-finding spree.” When she does start speaking, her favorite words are “why,” “how,” and “when.” Her parents, a fashion-forward black couple who sport a variety of trendy outfits, are dumbfounded, and her older brother can only point at her in astonishment. She amazes her friends with her experiments. Ada examines all the clocks in the house, studies the solar system, and analyzes all the smells she encounters. Fortunately, her parents stop her from putting the cat in the dryer, sending her instead to the Thinking Chair. But while there, she covers the wall with formulae. What can her parents do? Instead of punishing her passion, they decide to try to understand it. “It’s all in the heart of a young scientist.” Though her plot is negligible—Ada’s parents arguably change more than she does—Beaty delightfully advocates for girls in science in her now-trademark crisply rhyming text. Roberts’ illustrations, in watercolor, pen, and ink, manage to be both smart and silly; the page compositions artfully evoke the tumult of Ada’s curiosity, filling white backgrounds with questions and clutter.

Cool and stylish. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2137-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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