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

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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An auspicious primer on some very big numbers.

A HUNDRED BILLION TRILLION STARS

Huge numbers take on an even bigger scale in Fishman and Greenberg’s insightful, awe-inspiring picture book.

A secret shared between narrator and the reader kicks things off: “The sun is just a star. / And there are (maybe) 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars.” (Readers will be grateful for the “a hundred billion trillion” printed in the corner.) Stars too many to count, in various sizes and shapes, fill the double-page spread, illustrating the comically large number centered on the page. It’s enough to leave most flabbergasted, but Fishman aims for much more as he zeroes in on one particular blue-and-green planet. Even this celestial orb has its secrets: “Blue because it’s covered by 370,000,000,000,000,000,000 gallons of water. Green because it’s covered in 3,000,000,000,000 trees.” From there it’s all about the (innumerable) details. For example, 10 quadrillion ants may equal 7.5 billion humans in weight (as terrifying as that sounds); meanwhile, 420 million dogs or guitars lined up head to foot circle the Earth about 10 times. The figures aren’t precise, but quibbling over exactness almost misses the point of the book. A constant throughout this excursion, however, is Greenberg’s digital artwork, which features bold, thick lines, vibrant colors and shapes, and a diverse cast of nameless characters. More notable perhaps is the author’s persistent focus on the reader: “There’s only one of YOU.” Such a statement threatens to veer into ham-fisted territory, but here it serves to underline how amazing it is to be the only one.

An auspicious primer on some very big numbers. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245578-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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