Despite minor bumps, a ride that’s worth returning to.

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HOW TO CODE A ROLLERCOASTER

Pearl and her robot, Pascal, take their coding skills for a spin at the amusement park in this Girls Who Code picture book, a follow-up to How To Code a Sandcastle (2018).

The park has many rides to choose from, and Pearl has 10 tokens to last her the day. But her favorite ride, the Python roller coaster, looks busy. Pearl decides to do something else fun, using code concepts such as variables to keep track of the length of the line and her remaining tokens and a conditional statement to decide when to return to the Python. Throughout, computer science terms are defined crisply in the text and vividly illustrated in the pictures, which use images such as popcorn bags for variables and the Ferris wheel for loops (keeping track of ice cream flavors seems somewhat contrived). The backmatter explains these ideas more fully. Pascal’s too-literal interpretations of Pearl’s statements make for several amusing moments along the way. When Pearl runs short of tokens (a missed opportunity to talk about checking for more than one condition?), she’s undaunted by the disaster, taking readers on a fun hunt for a secret hidden password, in a nod to the importance of proper sequencing. Pearl has brown skin and black curls; others at the park have a variety of skin tones.

Despite minor bumps, a ride that’s worth returning to. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-425-29203-7

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad.

THE BIG BEYOND

THE STORY OF SPACE TRAVEL

A capsule history of space exploration, from early stargazing to probes roaming the surface of Mars.

In loosely rhymed couplets Carter’s high-speed account zooms past the inventions of constellations, telescopes, and flying machines to the launches of Sputnik I, the “Saturn Five” (spelled out, probably, to facilitate the rhyme) that put men on the moon, and later probes. He caps it all with an enticing suggestion: “We’ll need an astronaut (or two)— / so what do you think? Could it be YOU?” Cushley lines up a notably diverse array of prospective young space travelers for this finish, but anachronistic earlier views of a dark-skinned astronaut floating in orbit opposite poetic references to the dogs, cats, and other animals sent into space in the 1950s and a model of the space shuttle on a shelf next to a line of viewers watching the televised moon landing in 1969 show no great regard for verisimilitude. Also, his full-page opening picture of the Challenger, its ports painted to look like a smiley face, just moments before it blew up is a decidedly odd choice to illustrate the poem’s opening countdown. As with his cosmological lyric Once upon a Star (2018, illustrated by Mar Hernández), the poet closes with a page of further facts arranged as an acrostic.

Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68010-147-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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HOW THINGS WORK IN THE YARD

From birds and their nests to a hose and sprinkler, this attractive informational title presents 21 familiar objects that might be found in a young reader’s suburban yard. Clear, clean cut-paper illustrations in pleasingly unsaturated colors are laid out in double-page spreads on a background of colored graph paper. The minimal text is presented will in digestible bits. Acting as an example of a bird, a robin's body parts (eye, beak, feathers, etc.) are labeled, and a few fast facts (they "communicate with each other by singing," for example) are given. The range is surprisingly varied: animals such as snails, fireflies and ants; tools and toys such as a ball, a wagon and a bubble wand; dandelions, clouds and puddles; even rocks and dirt. Occasionally parts of humans are depicted; their skin colors vary. Ernst has a clear sense of what her young readers might notice and wonder about. She also helps them make connections. A caterpillar page is followed by one on a butterfly; acorn is followed by squirrel. Some, like clouds and puddles, appear on the same spread. The definitions and explanations are clear and simple, and the author sometimes suggests an activity: making a dandelion chain, catching fireflies, painting rocks, even jumping in puddles! A beguiling invitation to curious young readers and listeners to explore both the pages of the book and the world outside their doors. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-60905-009-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Apple

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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