HOW TO BUILD AN INSECT

While ostensibly giving instructions on creating a 3-D insect replica, art and text teach the rudiments of entomology.

The initial double-page spread shows a dark room cluttered with cleaning supplies, a small drafting table, and scientific paraphernalia including a full-length human skeleton. An opening door at the left sheds light on the room’s contents while also revealing the brown-skinned arm and leg of someone entering, carrying a large jar whose contents will be revealed at the next page turn. The first words, in bold, white, playful type: “Let’s build an insect. Where should we start?” The next double-page spread answers the question by mentioning that humans have heads, so “Let’s give our insect a head.” Spread by spread, questions are asked and then answered by the invisible narrator, as the pair of hands that carried the jar into the room follows directions and uses art supplies to create a colorful, attractive creature. Attention-grabbing, clever art accompanies the whimsical text as it lightly compares insect anatomy with that of humans and other animals, notes basic body parts and some differences among insects, and explains vocabulary such as ocelli and mandibles. Especially droll: music entering a cricket’s “knee ears” and an insect gasping because it needs holes in its exoskeleton rather than lungs. The conversational narration ends with a bit of a thud, though, given its lively tone throughout. Older readers will appreciate a final spread that gives further information in a straightforward manner.

Distinctive and fun. (glossary, activity) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5415-7811-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 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