An accessible introduction to coding rules that also easily entertains.

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HOW TO CODE A SANDCASTLE

A girl named Pearl programs a (rust-proof) robot to help her build sand castles in this new addition to the Girls Who Code organization’s book program.

The last day of summer vacation is Pearl’s last chance to build a sand castle. All her prior attempts have fallen victim to comic mishaps (such as a “moat” contributed by dog Ada Puglace). For backup, she brings her robot, Pascal, with whom she breaks down the full task—building the sand castle—into small problems: finding a place to build via specific instructions, gathering sand via a sequence (and more efficiently with a loop), and decorating the castle via an IF-THEN-ELSE statement. After she works out the kinks, the oncoming tide throws Pearl for a new loop—literally, as she reuses her previous computer code while adding a moat feature to handle the tide. The cheerful mixed-media illustrations and warm color palette fit both the subject matter and the can-do spirit of the book. The computer science terms are demonstrated in clear, concise ways, allowing them to be mined for humor (such as Pascal’s attempts to place the sand castle in unsuitable places until Pearl learns to be very specific), and serve the story without feeling obtrusive or too much like lessons. The backmatter gives fuller explanations of the terms. Pearl has brown skin and textured, black pigtails, and the other beachgoers are racially diverse.

An accessible introduction to coding rules that also easily entertains. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-425-29198-6

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Cool and stylish.

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ADA TWIST, SCIENTIST

Her intellectual curiosity is surpassed only by her passion for science. But what to do about her messy experiments?

Ada is speechless until she turns 3. But once she learns how to break out of her crib, there’s no stopping the kinky-haired, brown-skinned girl. “She tore through the house on a fact-finding spree.” When she does start speaking, her favorite words are “why,” “how,” and “when.” Her parents, a fashion-forward black couple who sport a variety of trendy outfits, are dumbfounded, and her older brother can only point at her in astonishment. She amazes her friends with her experiments. Ada examines all the clocks in the house, studies the solar system, and analyzes all the smells she encounters. Fortunately, her parents stop her from putting the cat in the dryer, sending her instead to the Thinking Chair. But while there, she covers the wall with formulae. What can her parents do? Instead of punishing her passion, they decide to try to understand it. “It’s all in the heart of a young scientist.” Though her plot is negligible—Ada’s parents arguably change more than she does—Beaty delightfully advocates for girls in science in her now-trademark crisply rhyming text. Roberts’ illustrations, in watercolor, pen, and ink, manage to be both smart and silly; the page compositions artfully evoke the tumult of Ada’s curiosity, filling white backgrounds with questions and clutter.

Cool and stylish. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2137-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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