From the Little People, BIG DREAMS series

An attractive treatment of an inspiring life.

The latest in the Little People, BIG DREAMS series focuses on the first American woman in space.

This brief, well-written biography begins with Sally Ride’s childhood and ends with Ride starting a company that produced science books for children; it’s not until the timeline in the backmatter that readers learn she died in 2012. The book stresses Ride’s dedication to learning; she’s described as “studying physics in college,” though what that entailed gets little explanation. When NASA opened up its pool of astronauts to scientists, Ride applied and, along with five other women, was accepted. The text doesn’t mention that they were the first women astronauts, though the backmatter does clarify this point, and the book does later refer to Ride as “the first American woman to explore the universe beyond the bounds of Earth!” The author also touches on her invention of a robotic arm and her pilot’s license, her confidence in the face of sexism, and her feelings and accomplishments. The astronauts’ grief over the fatalities in the Challenger shuttle explosion occupies a page. The book is silent on her marriage to fellow astronaut Steven Hawley but discusses “her partner, Tam,” without using a pronoun (or citing their 27 years together). Most of the appealingly simple, subtly colorful illustrations feature the astronaut; where possible, racially diverse children appear.

An attractive treatment of an inspiring life. (photos) (Picture-book biography. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2024

ISBN: 9780711291515

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023


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

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 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017


A solid addition to Rotner’s seasonal series. Bring on summer.

Rotner follows up her celebrations of spring and autumn with this look at all things winter.

Beginning with the signs that winter is coming—bare trees, shorter days, colder temperatures—Rotner eases readers into the season. People light fires and sing songs on the solstice, trees and plants stop growing, and shadows grow long. Ice starts to form on bodies of water and windows. When the snow flies, the fun begins—bundle up and then build forts, make snowballs and snowmen (with eyebrows!), sled, ski (nordic is pictured), skate, snowshoe, snowboard, drink hot chocolate. Animals adapt to the cold as well. “Birds grow more feathers” (there’s nothing about fluffing and air insulation) and mammals, more hair. They have to search for food, and Rotner discusses how many make or find shelter, slow down, hibernate, or go underground or underwater to stay warm. One page talks about celebrating holidays with lights and decorations. The photos show a lit menorah, an outdoor deciduous tree covered in huge Christmas bulbs, a girl next to a Chinese dragon head, a boy with lit luminarias, and some fireworks. The final spread shows signs of the season’s shift to spring. Rotner’s photos, as always, are a big draw. The children are a marvelous mix of cultures and races, and all show their clear delight with winter.

A solid addition to Rotner’s seasonal series. Bring on summer. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3976-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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