A clear, respectful introduction.

A MAMMAL IS AN ANIMAL

A dad and two kids walk their English setter and explore what distinguishes mammals from all the other animals they see.

Beginning by establishing that animals “can eat, breathe, move, and grow” but that not all animals are mammals, the book introduces several members of the animal kingdom in reverse order of their proximity to mammals on the taxonomic tree. An earthworm, for instance, is an animal, but it “is soft inside and out,” whereas mammals have “some body parts that are hard.” Similarly, ladybugs have hard body parts, but they’re only on the outside, unlike mammals’, which are “mostly on the inside.” Thus largely eschewing scientific vocabulary in favor of clear explanations (the terms “vertebrates” and “invertebrates” are introduced in a diagram in the backmatter), Rockwell’s text focuses on the concepts. The fine-lined ink-and-watercolor illustrations are as clear and straightforward as the text, with the carefully labeled renderings of the animals examined particularly meticulous. Occasional, supplementary text in a smaller type provides further information, such as the facts that whales breathe through blowholes and “snakes usually have just one long lung.” The family is an interracial one, with a white dad and brown-skinned mom who is seen nursing a baby in the final spread, underscoring humanity’s kinship with our fellow mammals.

A clear, respectful introduction. (further facts, references) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3670-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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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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Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard.

HELLO AUTUMN!

Rotner follows Hello Spring (2017) with this salute to the fall season.

Name a change seen in northern climes in fall, and Rotner likely covers it here, from plants, trees, and animals to the food we harvest: seeds are spread, the days grow shorter and cooler, the leaves change and fall (and are raked up and jumped in), some animals migrate, and many families celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving. As in the previous book, the photographs (presented in a variety of sizes and layouts, all clean) are the stars here, displaying both the myriad changes of the season and a multicultural array of children enjoying the outdoors in fall. These are set against white backgrounds that make the reddish-orange print pop. The text itself uses short sentences and some solid vocabulary (though “deep sleep” is used instead of “hibernate”) to teach readers the markers of autumn, though in the quest for simplicity, Rotner sacrifices some truth. In several cases, the addition of just a few words would have made the following oversimplified statements reflect reality: “Birds grow more feathers”; “Cranberries float and turn red.” Also, Rotner includes the statement “Bees store extra honey in their hives” on a page about animals going into deep sleep, implying that honeybees hibernate, which is false.

Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3869-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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