More whimsy than fact here—but by that measure, an agreeable-enough romp.



Following Swamp Chomp (2014), Schaefer and Meisel explore animals in motion on the African savanna.

Schaefer begins by sketching the relationship between predators and their prey. “They chase their prey across the plains, sometimes catching their next meal, sometimes not. It’s a real-life game of hide-and-seek.” After a nighttime scene of sleeping prey animals eyed by a lioness, the action shifts to day, as “leopards spring, / and impalas bound. // Eagles swoop, / and hares hop. // Crocodiles lunge, / and hippos trot.” At times, the staccato couplets stray from their predator-prey focus: “Snakes slither, / and elephants lumber.” The narrative shifts again, to the animals’ collective movement: “Across the savanna, / they scamper and skitter, / past termites / and aardvarks, / near watering holes / and rhinos.” The text oversimplifies the savanna’s complex food chain, making no attempt to further distinguish the depicted animals as omnivores, herbivores, scavengers, or decomposers. Meisel’s mixed-media pictures clearly capture distinguishing features of the animals amid grasslands dotted with acacia trees. However, there’s visual elision, too, as several spreads—including a climactic encounter with lions and a final slumber scene—depict the animals as a cohesive group, with just one or two individuals per species. A few facts, and a list of the 24 mentioned animals with their average sprint speeds, are appended without references.

More whimsy than fact here—but by that measure, an agreeable-enough romp. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3555-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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Inspiring, adventurous fun for aspirational kids.


A little girl’s imaginative plan to become an astronaut and be the first to travel to Mars really takes off.

Together with a crew of stuffed animals (owl, rabbit, and teddy bear), Sadie Sprocket does her research, gathers materials to build her spaceship, and, with support from family and friends—and media coverage—embarks on her historic journey. Rhyming quatrains tell the story of how Sadie patiently reads, cooks, and records important data during the 100-day interplanetary journey. And then: “The Earth behind, so far away, / was now a tiny dot. / Then Sadie cried, ‘There’s planet Mars! / It’s smaller than I thought!’ ” After landing and gathering 20 bags of samples, Sadie and crew are stuck in a red sandstorm while trying to take off again. But with Sadie’s determination and can-do spirit, they blast off, safely returning to Earth with future heroic space-exploration ideas in mind. Spiky cartoons transform a child’s playroom into an outer-space venue, complete with twinkling stars and colorful planets. Sadie presents White while her encouraging fans feature more diversity. An addendum includes brief facts about Mars and a handful of women space scientists. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 50% of actual size.)

Inspiring, adventurous fun for aspirational kids. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1803-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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An engaging story arguing for the marriage of technology with creativity and play.

DOLL-E 1.0

A young girl receives a puzzling gift.

Young Charlotte has always been the most tech-savvy member of her family, helping her mother with a tablet and her father with the smart TV. After Charlotte’s parents observe a news report cautioning against letting kids get “too techy,” the couple presents Charlotte with a doll. The doll doesn’t move or think—it simply sits and utters the word “Ma-ma.” Charlotte reasons that for a doll to talk it must have a power supply, and with a few modifications and a little imagination, Charlotte’s doll becomes Doll-E 1.0. The STEM-friendly narrative is brought to life with charming pencil-and-watercolor illustrations, edited in Photoshop. The scratchy lines are reminiscent of the pictures children like Charlotte sketch at their drawing boards, and the dynamic compositions burst with energy. Charlotte is an engaging character, expressive and thoughtful in equal measure. Charlotte’s doll is adorably rendered, looking mostly like any other common doll but just unique enough that little ones may want one of their own. Charlotte and her family present white; little dog Bluetooth is a scruffy, white terrier.

An engaging story arguing for the marriage of technology with creativity and play. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-51031-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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