DEAR EARTH…FROM YOUR FRIENDS IN ROOM 5

A well-thought-out presentation of an important environmental message.

A year’s worth of letters between elementary students and Earth highlight practical ways to care for our planet.

The students of Room 5 hope to “do our part” to care for their world. In January, they send a letter to Earth asking for suggestions; the Earth happily replies. This series of monthly exchanges includes familiar recommendations, beginning with turning off the lights and ending with regifting Christmas presents with recycled wrappings, and why these actions matter. What begins as an all-class activity becomes an “Earth Heroes” club by the following September, led by Bernard, the most enthusiastic correspondent. Over the year they’ve adopted reusable water bottles, planted a garden, begun to bike to school, used both sides of pieces of paper, and convinced the school cafeteria to contribute compost to their garden, among other actions. In the process, Bernard, a boy with light-brown skin, even becomes more skillful at rhyming. In cheerful, bustling illustrations, Uribe depicts a wonderfully diverse group of schoolchildren indoors and out. They vary in hair, eye, and skin color and hairstyle; some wear glasses or use mobility aids. The pages with Earth’s letters feature smiling globes, attractive scenery, and appealing animals, including a sea turtle, a winsome black-footed ferret, and even a nesting red knot. The final spread includes a simple explanation of climate change’s causes and effects and a summary of things Earth Heroes can do. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 94.1% of actual size.)

A well-thought-out presentation of an important environmental message. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-291532-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

ADA LACE, ON THE CASE

From the Ada Lace series , Vol. 1

The story feels a bit contrived, but Ada will be a welcome addition to the small circle of science-loving girls in the...

Using science and technology, third-grader Ada Lace kicks off her new series by solving a mystery even with her leg in a cast.

Temporarily housebound after a badly executed bungee jump, Ada uses binoculars to document the ecosystem of her new neighborhood in San Francisco. She records her observations in a field journal, a project that intrigues new friend Nina, who lives nearby. When they see that Ms. Reed’s dog, Marguerite, is missing, they leap to the conclusion that it has been stolen. Nina does the legwork and Ada provides the technology for their search for the dognapper. Story-crafting takes a back seat to scene-setting in this series kickoff that introduces the major players. As part of the series formula, science topics and gadgetry are integrated into the stories and further explained in a “Behind the Science” afterword. This installment incorporates drones, a wireless camera, gecko gloves, and the Turing test as well as the concept of an ecosystem. There are no ethnic indicators in the text, but the illustrations reveal that Ada, her family, and bratty neighbor Milton are white; Nina appears to be Southeast Asian; and Mr. Peebles, an inventor who lives nearby, is black.

The story feels a bit contrived, but Ada will be a welcome addition to the small circle of science-loving girls in the chapter-book world. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8599-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

TOUCH THE EARTH

From the Julian Lennon White Feather Flier Adventure series , Vol. 1

“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so...

A pro bono Twinkie of a book invites readers to fly off in a magic plane to bring clean water to our planet’s oceans, deserts, and brown children.

Following a confusingly phrased suggestion beneath a soft-focus world map to “touch the Earth. Now touch where you live,” a shake of the volume transforms it into a plane with eyes and feathered wings that flies with the press of a flat, gray “button” painted onto the page. Pressing like buttons along the journey releases a gush of fresh water from the ground—and later, illogically, provides a filtration device that changes water “from yucky to clean”—for thirsty groups of smiling, brown-skinned people. At other stops, a tap on the button will “help irrigate the desert,” and touching floating bottles and other debris in the ocean supposedly makes it all disappear so the fish can return. The 20 children Coh places on a globe toward the end are varied of skin tone, but three of the four young saviors she plants in the flier’s cockpit as audience stand-ins are white. The closing poem isn’t so openly parochial, though it seldom rises above vague feel-good sentiments: “Love the Earth, the moon and sun. / All the children can be one.”

“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so easy to clean the place up and give everyone a drink? (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-2083-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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