This not-so-whimsical flight of fancy could well inspire a new generation of conservationists.

PLANT A POCKET OF PRAIRIE

Readers won’t find a definition of what a prairie actually is, but they will learn about the wealth of flora and fauna it contains—and how the loss of any of its life forms affects others tremendously.

Even urban and suburban dwellers can help bring prairies to life again, if only in a limited way, by “[planting] a pocket of prairie / in your backyard / or boulevard / or boxes on a balcony.” Doing so would invite a host of birds, animals and insects to feast on typical prairie plants bearing wonderful names like “foxglove beardtongue” and “hairy mountain mint.” To this end, it helps that the author advises that certain plants can thrive in containers, while some plants must be planted in the earth, but this isn’t really a gardening book. Instead, it’s a fanciful celebration of possibility, as with the addition of each new plant in the hypothetical “pocket,” more prairie wildlife appears, till a bison and her calf are browsing in the grasses. The lively, simple text is poetic; the colorful illustrations of native creatures and plants are energetic. While some of the author’s supplemental text and a map refer specifically to Minnesota, she emphasizes that tiny “pockets of prairie” still exist in various—and unexpected—places elsewhere.

This not-so-whimsical flight of fancy could well inspire a new generation of conservationists. (notes about prairies and prairie wildlife) (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8166-7980-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Univ. of Minnesota

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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Absolutely wonderful in every way.

THE SECRET SUBWAY

A long-forgotten chapter in New York City history is brilliantly illuminated.

In mid-19th-century New York, horses and horse-drawn vehicles were the only means of transportation, and the din created by wheels as they rumbled on the cobblestones was deafening. The congestion at intersections threatened the lives of drivers and pedestrians alike. Many solutions were bandied about, but nothing was ever done. Enter Alfred Ely Beach, an admirer of “newfangled notions.” Working in secret, he created an underground train powered by an enormous fan in a pneumatic tube. He built a tunnel lined with brick and concrete and a sumptuously decorated waiting room for passenger comfort. It brought a curious public rushing to use it and became a great though short-lived success, ending when the corrupt politician Boss Tweed used his influence to kill the whole project. Here is science, history, suspense, secrecy, and skulduggery in action. Corey’s narrative is brisk, chatty, and highly descriptive, vividly presenting all the salient facts and making the events accessible and fascinating to modern readers. The incredibly inventive multimedia illustrations match the text perfectly and add detail, dimension, and pizazz. Located on the inside of the book jacket is a step-by-step guide to the creative process behind these remarkable illustrations.

Absolutely wonderful in every way. (author’s note, bibliography, Web resources) (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-375-87071-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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A lighthearted read that will offer comfort to young children that others too face challenges of friendship, teamwork and...

PARKER BELL AND THE SCIENCE OF FRIENDSHIP

In her debut chapter book, Platt shares the story of a young girl navigating friendships and the challenges of trying to win her school’s science triathlon.

Young Parker Bell is a curious child who loves science and aspires to match up to Mae Jemison and Jane Goodall one day. Her best friend and partner in science is coding whiz Cassie Malouf. They have been best friends since kindergarten, but Parker gets jealous when Cassie suddenly starts becoming friendly with Theo Zachary, a shy boy in their class. Parker worries that Cassie likes Theo more than her, and she fights hard to keep her friend. Matters only get worse when Cassie invites Theo to be part of their team for the science triathlon, which features a science trivia contest, an egg drop, and a presentation. In a somewhat predictable plot, Parker realizes she has a lot in common with Theo as she spends more time with him. Platt works hard to defy gender stereotypes. In addition to the girls’ STEM enthusiasm, Parker’s mom teaches phys ed, her dad owns a bakery, and Cassie’s mom teaches math. Zhai’s simple black-and-white illustrations of Parker, Cassie, and the classrooms provide a good visual aid to the story, depicting Parker and Theo as white and Cassie with dark skin and long black hair.

A lighthearted read that will offer comfort to young children that others too face challenges of friendship, teamwork and competition. (Fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-97347-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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