Cheerfully delivered, this array of projects should inspire adults ready to dig into gardening adventures with kids.



Propelled by her volunteer work running a garden club at her daughter’s school, professional illustrator Coombs presents 38 garden projects organized by season.

The activities incorporate garden how-tos for eight types of plants as well as STEAM-oriented DIY projects such as charting plant growth, pressing flowers, and making seed bombs. Emphasizing budget-friendly options, Coombs encourages composting, seed saving, and repurposing plastic jugs as hanging baskets, watering cans, and scoops. Information about water conservation and the importance of fostering habitat for pollinators sharpens the ecological focus. An occasional British reference (e.g. encouraging slug-eating hedgehogs) slips into this import, and two superficial references to Native American gardening practices, incorporated in sidebars, come across as implications that they are quaint relics of a bygone, monolithic culture. With Coombs’ illustrated school newsletters as impetus, the text is often directed to adults. Only one project (pumpkin carving) mandates adult participation; others require the cutting of plastic bottles and bins with scissors, a metal skewer, and a drill and hacksaw. Illustrations are whimsical and clear. Coombs’ breezy, encouraging advice is often appealingly casual. However, certain specifics potentially mislead: planting pea seeds 12 inches apart (most packets advise closer spacing); suggesting that cherry tomatoes are reliably compact, bush varieties (in fact, many cherry varieties are free-growing, indeterminate types).

Cheerfully delivered, this array of projects should inspire adults ready to dig into gardening adventures with kids. (Informational picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78708-025-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Button Books

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Informative, empowering, and fun.


Girl power abounds in this book about coding that introduces young readers to the world of programming while offering them hands-on activities via a companion app.

In this title that was first introduced as a customizable, personalized print-on-demand product, Rox has a superpower. Using code, she programs toy robots that can do things like make broccoli disappear—or mischief. When Dad tells Rox to clean her room, she quickly thinks up a bot that will do it for her, writing code that instructs her bot to use artificial intelligence to sort objects by color and type. Though Rox knows that there’s a high potential for her creation to rebel, the perks outweigh any potential adverse effects. Rox’s robot has her room neat and tidy in no time—and then the entire home. Chorebot’s AI allows it to keep learning, and it seems Chorebot can do no wrong until the robot decides to rearrange the entire city (both buildings and people) by type, style, and gender. Chorebot goes “out of his artificial mind!” Rox must now stop her creation…without the assistance of the internet. The artwork, styled in the tradition of popular superhero series, is peppy and colorful, and it depicts Rox as an adorable black girl donning a black bomber jacket and a pink tutu. A companion app (not available for review) allows readers to create a bot of their own.

Informative, empowering, and fun. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-57687-899-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: POW!

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

Did you like this book?