CAPTAIN'S LOG

SNOWBOUND

Entertaining, informative—utterly delightful.

When a young adventurer is snowed in, his predicament begins to parallel that of the icebound Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton.

A young boy is all set for a school presentation about Ernest Shackleton’s 1914-16 expedition to Antarctica when he gets unexpectedly snowed in by a storm. Taking charge of the ship (his house) and reassuring the crew (his family), the young captain records his adventures, which mirror significant details of Shackleton’s infamous voyage, in his captain’s log. Full of heart and imagination, the boy transforms the family dog into his first mate, neighbors into penguins, and his little brother into a scallywag. The young captain does his best to perform his duties and care for his crew and ship just as Shackleton would have, but when the hardtack (cookie jar) disappears and mutiny threatens, the captain must resort to unorthodox methods to solve the mystery and get back on track. Dionne and Ebbeler have crafted a narrative full of spirit with small aesthetic choices that together capture the exhilaration of exploration and help connect the imaginary to the everyday. Historical details, including a glossary and brief account of Shackleton’s treacherous voyage, enrich a story that takes its pretend play very seriously, and a multiracial family and an endearing protagonist of color are welcome inclusions in a predominantly white landscape of adventure tales.

Entertaining, informative—utterly delightful. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58089-825-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

ROBOBABY

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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ADA TWIST, SCIENTIST

Cool and stylish.

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  • New York Times Bestseller


  • IndieBound Bestseller

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 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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