A heartening story of environmental restoration.

CREEKFINDING

A TRUE STORY

Bulldozed years earlier and filled to make a cornfield, a lost creek is found and restored on an Iowa farm.

When Michael Osterholm learned that a creek had once run under his farmland, he determined to restore it. Following old photographs and using heavy machinery to uncover the original bed and add stones to the bottom, he then planted grasses, providing the necessary ingredients for the creek to thrive again. “Mike said the water remembered. / It seeped in from the sides, / raced down the riffles and runs, / burbled into holes, filled the creek.” Plants, insects, frogs, birds, and small fish called sculpin returned on their own. A final touch was to stock the stream with the brook trout that once made it their home. Illustrator McGehee's made her ripply, creature-filled illustrations look like painted woodcuts by using scratchboard, watercolor, and dyes. Her curving lines are filled with life. One striking spread has no color, only the gray outlines of what is to come. Although Osterholm and the restorers appear to be white in the illustrations, a multiracial group is shown enjoying the restored creek at the end. Short lines of text are set in clear areas, but occasionally extra facts appear in tiny letters on the vegetation. The main narrative reads smoothly aloud, and the pictures, though detailed, should show well to a small group. Author’s and illustrator’s notes and a comment from the actual creek rescuer complete the package.

A heartening story of environmental restoration. (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8166-9802-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Univ. of Minnesota

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Informative, empowering, and fun.

ROX'S SECRET CODE

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. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

ROBOBABY

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 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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