COYOTE'S SOUNDBITE

A POEM FOR OUR PLANET

Coyote attends a conference of the earth goddesses in drag and contributes a great idea.

The six earth goddesses “from far-flung corners of the planet” plan a conference, for female creatures only, to discuss “whether humans are blind / or have simply lost their mind.” The ethnically diverse earth goddesses watch over every happening on Earth, down to “a tiny seed waking in a cradle of darkness.” But the earth goddesses themselves have never been seen. Coyote decides to wear his wife’s dress to attend the historic event. Each earth goddess gives a short speech about her contributions to life on the planet and her disappointment in humanity’s treatment of it. When they invite questions, a long silence ensues, and Coyote decides to offer a suggestion: the titular sound bite to get their message across to humans. His suggestion is gladly accepted. When Coyote gets home, he finds his wife dressed in his own suit and discovers she, too, has been out making suggestions at a conference not intended for her gender. Agard’s rhythmic verse reads like a classic fable, with intriguing characters and an interesting premise. The cross-dressing coyotes are an unfortunate diversion from the otherwise-engaging story; the fact that the only male in attendance comes up with the solution reduces the empowering message despite the ironic turn at the end of the tale. Grobler’s busy, characteristically scribbly illustrations add interest to each spread.

Very nearly successful. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-911373-73-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Lantana

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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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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