Accessible and familiar, this series opener should appeal to relatively new readers of chapter books.

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GREEN THUMBS-UP!

From the Friendship Garden series , Vol. 1

A community garden grows new friendships.

Starting third grade in a new school in urban Chicago, Anna misses her old life. Outside her school window there used to be green; now her view is gray. Her mother used to make family meals with fresh vegetables from their garden; now she’s cooking professionally, and it’s her father who makes dinner, using canned vegetables from the store. Once part of a trio of best friends, she can’t see anyone in her new class who looks welcoming. But when a school assignment matches her up with Kaya, whose abuela is an enthusiastic gardener, and Reed, who loves to dig in the dirt, they bond over the idea of forming a gardening club. Their need for an adult sponsor adds some suspense, but this hurdle is easily overcome. The appearance of garden-destroying raccoons adds humor. This comfortable school-and-friendship story is firmly set in the present day; Anna’s mother joins the family via computer video chat at dinner. The 8-year-old has believable worries and appropriate hesitations as she negotiates these big changes and the beginning stages of new friendships. The finished book will include black-and-white illustrations, not seen. The Friendship Garden series will continue with a companion book, Pumpkin Spice (2015).

Accessible and familiar, this series opener should appeal to relatively new readers of chapter books. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3906-0

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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A floral fantasia for casual browsers as well as budding botanists.

THE BIG BOOK OF BLOOMS

Spirited illustrations brighten a large-format introduction to flowers and their pollinators.

Showing a less Eurocentric outlook than in his Big Book of Birds (2019), Zommer employs agile brushwork and a fondness for graceful lines and bright colors to bring to life bustling bouquets from a range of habitats, from rainforest to desert. Often switching from horizontal to vertical orientations, the topical spreads progress from overviews of major floral families and broad looks at plant anatomy and reproduction to close-ups of select flora—roses and tulips to Venus flytraps and stinking flowers. The book then closes with a shoutout to the conservators and other workers at Kew Gardens (this is a British import) and quick suggestions for young balcony or windowsill gardeners. In most of the low-angled scenes, fancifully drawn avian or insect pollinators with human eyes hover around all the large, luscious blooms, as do one- or two-sentence comments that generally add cogent observations or insights: “All parts of the deadly nightshade plant contain poison. It has been used to poison famous emperors, kings and warriors throughout history.” (Confusingly for the audience, the accurate but limited assertion that bees “often visit blue or purple flowers” appears to be contradicted by an adjacent view of several zeroing in on a yellow toadflax.) Human figures, or, in one scene, hands, are depicted in a variety of sizes, shapes, and skin colors.

A floral fantasia for casual browsers as well as budding botanists. (glossary, index) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-500-65199-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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

ADA LACE, ON THE CASE

From the Ada Lace series , Vol. 1

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 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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