Yank those plugs, everyone. Connect with family and friends instead.

DOT. UNPLUGGED

Deny devices, turn off, tune out. That’s the unsubtle message in this picture book.

It’s raining. Indoors, Dot and her bestie, Hal, are playing a video game. Dad’s at his computer; Mom’s at her circuit board. Suddenly, the power goes out. Mom remembers it’s the National Day of Unplugging, announcing this means using “Nothing that runs on anything but our good old imaginations.” When the family descends to the basement searching for something to do, Scratch the dog finds a spinner game. Each of its five segments bears a simple image representing a task a player must perform when the arrow they spin lands on it. Creative play ensues, and Dot concludes that “Unplugging is fun!” The story will work equally well as a lapsit or a read-aloud to a group. It’s OK the exhortation’s obvious; kids will get that there’s life beyond the plugged-in kind. The colorful, cartoon illustrations are flat, but faces are expressive (even the dog’s). Dot, with strangely slate-gray hair, is garbed in yellow boots and a pink, polka-dot dress. She and her mom have pale pink skin; Dad’s skin is light tan; Hal is brown-skinned. The final page informs readers that the National Day of Unplugging is the second Friday in March and lists 50 “unplugged” activities. Readers/listeners should be encouraged to suggest and engage in other device-free pursuits.

Yank those plugs, everyone. Connect with family and friends instead. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0983-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick Entertainment

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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Sweet fare for bed- or naptimes, with a light frosting of natural history.

WOODLAND DREAMS

A sonorous, soporific invitation to join woodland creatures in bedding down for the night.

As in her Moon Babies, illustrated by Amy Hevron (2019), Jameson displays a rare gift for harmonious language and rhyme. She leads off with a bear: “Come home, Big Paws. / Berry picker / Honey trickster / Shadows deepen in the glen. / Lumber back inside your den.” Continuing in the same pattern, she urges a moose (“Velvet Nose”), a deer (“Tiny Hooves”), and a succession of ever smaller creatures to find their nooks and nests as twilight deepens in Boutavant’s woodsy, autumnal scenes and snow begins to drift down. Through each of those scenes quietly walks an alert White child (accompanied by an unusually self-controlled pooch), peering through branches or over rocks at the animals in the foregrounds and sketching them in a notebook. The observer’s turn comes round at last, as a bearded parent beckons: “This way, Small Boots. / Brave trailblazer / Bright stargazer / Cabin’s toasty. Blanket’s soft. / Snuggle deep in sleeping loft.” The animals go unnamed, leaving it to younger listeners to identify each one from the pictures…if they can do so before the verses’ murmurous tempo closes their eyes.

Sweet fare for bed- or naptimes, with a light frosting of natural history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7063-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Inspiring, adventurous fun for aspirational kids.

SADIE SPROCKET BUILDS A ROCKET

A little girl’s imaginative plan to become an astronaut and be the first to travel to Mars really takes off.

Together with a crew of stuffed animals (owl, rabbit, and teddy bear), Sadie Sprocket does her research, gathers materials to build her spaceship, and, with support from family and friends—and media coverage—embarks on her historic journey. Rhyming quatrains tell the story of how Sadie patiently reads, cooks, and records important data during the 100-day interplanetary journey. And then: “The Earth behind, so far away, / was now a tiny dot. / Then Sadie cried, ‘There’s planet Mars! / It’s smaller than I thought!’ ” After landing and gathering 20 bags of samples, Sadie and crew are stuck in a red sandstorm while trying to take off again. But with Sadie’s determination and can-do spirit, they blast off, safely returning to Earth with future heroic space-exploration ideas in mind. Spiky cartoons transform a child’s playroom into an outer-space venue, complete with twinkling stars and colorful planets. Sadie presents White while her encouraging fans feature more diversity. An addendum includes brief facts about Mars and a handful of women space scientists. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 50% of actual size.)

Inspiring, adventurous fun for aspirational kids. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1803-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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