A broad-(key)strokes rather than nuts-and-bolts computer-science introduction.

READ REVIEW

HOW DO COMPUTERS FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS?

From the How Do series

An introduction to programming concepts, framed around the notion of telling computers what to do.

Through questions and answers, this book walks young readers from the ideas of computer languages and input and output to data variables, Boolean logic, and loops. The questions come in pairs, the first straightforward and the second ludicrously silly, providing humor and a chance for an audience response of “No!” For example, the text asks if computers and programs use phones to call or text with users to determine when to run a program, if computers keep track of programs via a “secret diary,” and if computers flip coins to determine whether or not to do something—that question comes with charming art of a computer unplugging itself in response to a coin flip. The lively art—cartoon drawings with a thin line, frequently on graph-paper backgrounds—implies notebook doodles and features ethnic diversity among the depicted children. A superfluous final section, illustrated with photos of diverse children, gives examples of programmed technologies such as televisions, vending machines, cellphones, laptops, and gaming consoles. The text features overly wordy passages and suffers from sentence-to-sentence redundancies. That said, the explanations are all solid, and the computer-logic portions—Boolean, if-else statements, and loops—are demonstrated well through speech-bubble exchanges among characters. A glossary concisely defines terms.

A broad-(key)strokes rather than nuts-and-bolts computer-science introduction. (Nonfiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4867-1791-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flowerpot Press

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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It’s nothing new in territory or angle, but it’s still a serviceable survey with reasonably durable moving parts.

THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF PLANET EARTH

Flaps, pull tabs, and pop-ups large and small enhance views of our planet’s inside, outside, atmosphere, biosphere, and geophysics.

It’s a hefty, high-speed tour through Earth’s features, climates, and natural resources, with compressed surveys of special topics on multileveled flaps and a spread on the history of life that is extended by a double-foldout wing. But even when teeming with small images of land forms, wildlife, or diverse groups of children and adults, Balicevic’s bright cartoon illustrations look relatively uncrowded. Although the quality of the paper engineering is uneven, the special effects add dramatic set pieces: Readers need to hold in place a humongous column of cumulonimbus clouds for it to reach its full extension; a volcano erupts in a gratifyingly large scale; and, on the plate-tectonics spread, a pull tab gives readers the opportunity to run the Indian Plate into the Eurasian one and see the Himalayas bulge up. A final spread showing resources, mostly renewable ones, being tapped ends with an appeal to protect “our only home.” All in all, it’s a likely alternative to Dougal Jerram’s Utterly Amazing Earth, illustrated by Dan Crisp and Molly Lattin (2017), being broader in scope and a bit more generous in its level of detail.

It’s nothing new in territory or angle, but it’s still a serviceable survey with reasonably durable moving parts. (Informational novelty. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 979-1-02760-562-0

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders.

THE BIG BOOK OF THE BLUE

Denizens of the deep crowd oversized pages in this populous gallery of ocean life.

The finny and tentacled sea creatures drifting or arrowing through Zommer’s teeming watercolor seascapes are generally recognizable, and they are livened rather than distorted by the artist’s tendency to place human eyes on the same side of many faces, Picasso-like. Headers such as “Ink-teresting” or “In for the krill” likewise add a playful tone to the pithy comments on anatomical features or behavioral quirks that accompany the figures (which include, though rarely, a white human diver). The topical spreads begin with an overview of ocean families (“Some are hairy, some have scales, some have fins and some are boneless and brainless!”), go on to introduce select animals in no particular order from sea horses and dragonets to penguins and pufferfish, then close with cautionary remarks on chemical pollution and floating plastic. The author invites readers as they go to find both answers to such questions as “Why does a crab run sideways?” and also a small sardine hidden in some, but not all, of the pictures. For the latter he provides a visual key at the end, followed by a basic glossary.

A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders. (index) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-500-65119-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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