Light on actual science but big on creativity.


From the Goldie Blox and the Gearheads series , Vol. 1

GoldieBlox, the internet’s favorite girls-and-engineering toy, expands into chapter books.

After an unfortunate incident involving launching the second floor of Goldie’s old school into orbit—the Blox School, where the white girl’s mother teaches a handful of students—results in the school’s closure, Goldie’s sent to the prestigious Higgs Bozon Prep. Despite the company of her best friend, Li Zhang, a Chinese-American boy who loves physics and skateboarding, HiBo’s rigid rules and conventional conformity are no fit for a wild, creative inventor like Goldie. So she rounds up a team of potential allies: those who want to purge her zaniness from the school (black coder and fashionista Ruby Rails; purple-haired, brown-skinned, shy musician Val; and white, snobby Zeek Zander, the mayor’s son, who excels at spending money and math). Through working together in the rebuild (and catching the mayor in a net to force him to listen to their arguments about why the Blox School must reopen), Goldie builds strong friendships with Ruby and Val, who decide that the inventive, fun chaos that disorganized, impulsive Goldie brings makes it worth having her around. There isn’t much in the way of STEM content in this series opener, a proliferation of gadgets notwithstanding, but that may come in time, and the affirmation of the role of the imagination in tech is a welcome one.

Light on actual science but big on creativity. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-55634-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so...


From the Julian Lennon White Feather Flier Adventure series , Vol. 1

A pro bono Twinkie of a book invites readers to fly off in a magic plane to bring clean water to our planet’s oceans, deserts, and brown children.

Following a confusingly phrased suggestion beneath a soft-focus world map to “touch the Earth. Now touch where you live,” a shake of the volume transforms it into a plane with eyes and feathered wings that flies with the press of a flat, gray “button” painted onto the page. Pressing like buttons along the journey releases a gush of fresh water from the ground—and later, illogically, provides a filtration device that changes water “from yucky to clean”—for thirsty groups of smiling, brown-skinned people. At other stops, a tap on the button will “help irrigate the desert,” and touching floating bottles and other debris in the ocean supposedly makes it all disappear so the fish can return. The 20 children Coh places on a globe toward the end are varied of skin tone, but three of the four young saviors she plants in the flier’s cockpit as audience stand-ins are white. The closing poem isn’t so openly parochial, though it seldom rises above vague feel-good sentiments: “Love the Earth, the moon and sun. / All the children can be one.”

“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so easy to clean the place up and give everyone a drink? (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-2083-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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Readers (and listeners) will think that this book is the bee’s knees.


Children will be buzzing to learn more about honeybees after reading this story.

Hall takes her readers on a sunny romp through a springtime pasture abuzz with friendly honeybees in this bright and cheerful picture book. Hall’s rhyme scheme is inviting and mirrors the staccato sounds of a bee buzzing. At times, however, meaning seems to take a back seat to the rhyme. The bees are suggested to “tap” while flying, a noise that adult readers might have trouble explaining to curious listeners. Later, the “hill” the bees return to may elicit further questions, as this point is not addressed textually or visually. Minor quibbles aside, the vocabulary is on-point as the bees demonstrate the various stages of nectar collection and honey creation. Arsenault’s illustrations, a combination of ink, gouache, graphite, and colored pencil, are energetic and cheerful. Extra points should be awarded for properly illustrating a natural honeybee hive (as opposed to the often depicted wasp nest). The expressive bees are also well-done. Their faces are welcoming, but their sharp noses hint at the stingers that may be lurking behind them. Hall’s ending note to readers will be appreciated by adults but will require their interpretation to be accessible to children. A sensible choice for read-alouds and STEAM programs.

Readers (and listeners) will think that this book is the bee’s knees. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6997-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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