A de-tail-ed look at an important adaptation across species.

ANIMAL TAILS

A fascinating up-close look at the many uses animals have for their tails.

Frogs and toads start out with tails that help them swim but lose them as they grow and move to living on land. Deer use their tails as flags to warn others of danger. Beavers do this as well, plus they use their wide tails to steer, store fat, and balance. Everyone knows that a skunk’s lifted tail is a sign of imminent trouble, and the prehensile tails of opossums help them grasp tree branches. When it’s cold, a fox uses its bushy tail as a blanket. Muskrats and birds use their tails as rudders to help them steer, one through water, the other through the sky. And porcupines and bees use their tails for defense. Holland’s photos are a highlight, filling three-quarters of each page and sometimes including inset pictures—of the skunk’s rear with tail raised and of the beaver in midslap. Readers can see individual hairs and feathers and will want to curl up with the adorable fox. But two photographed animals have no accompanying text: the red squirrel on the cover and the snake in the opening spread. The “For Creative Minds” section in the back invites readers to match animals to their tails and describes the tail adaptations of flying squirrels, salamanders, fireflies, bats, and otters. A Spanish-language edition, Las colas de los animales, publishes simultaneously.

A de-tail-ed look at an important adaptation across species. (Informational picture book 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62855-976-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Arbordale Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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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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