A sweet, informative journey.

A TREE IS A HOME

As the seasons change, so does the oak tree—and the animals who live in, on, and beneath it.

“The big, old oak tree stands tall near the empty house.…Many animals have lived here.” This picture book needs plenty of time for reading the text and looking carefully and deeply at the richly colored art. The illustrations are deceptively simple—primitive and childlike, using crayons among other media—but the details go beyond complementing the scientific text. For example, astute readers will see the “sold” sign on the empty house on the verdant, summery initial page. Successive, alternating double-page spreads show first the tree and house on the verso, with brief text that describes seasonal changes in the tree, then present what’s happening at the same time in the life cycles of six winsome animals: raccoon, acorn weevil, opossum, gray squirrel, blue jay, chipmunk. All, even the weevils, are depicted with plenty of personality. With each season, each animal peers out from a frame with several sentences about the animal’s behavior or appearance. Simple sentences teach new vocabulary through context. By springtime, baby animals have joined several of the inhabitants. Extra joy comes from noticing an interracial family of human beings who move in on the autumn pages, peer out snow-flecked windows in winter, plant a garden in spring, and enjoy the outdoors in summer. And is it only the tree’s inhabitants that have added family members? (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A sweet, informative journey. (additional facts, glossary, bibliography) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0236-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more