It takes a village to control light pollution…gently inspirational.

THE STARS JUST UP THE STREET

Can Mabel and Grandpa convince others to shut off lights in order to stargaze?

Mabel’s grandfather loves telling tales of the night sky over the prairie where he grew up. Mabel is especially drawn to his stories of stars since she loves looking up at the five stars she can see from her bedroom window and the 19 “from her backyard in a narrow patch of sky.” She and Grandpa take a night walk, seeking the thousands of stars visible during Grandpa’s childhood. They enlist some neighbors to shut off lights and join them—then about 200 stars can be seen. Realizing that more stars will be visible only if the streetlights are temporarily off, Mabel and Grandpa appeal to the mayor—and are refused. Undaunted, the duo begins a campaign flooding the mayor’s office with support from many residents, but she still refuses, citing her commitment to safety even when a police officer and a parks and rec worker contradict her concerns. Finally, Mabel finds a way to the mayor’s heart; the story ends with a community event that promises to become traditional. Graceful, readable text underscores the protagonists’ loving relationship. The art—watercolor washes over ink—is a sweet complement, whether portraying daylight excursions or revelers under the increasingly starry sky. Mabel, Grandpa, and the mayor are white; there are people of color among town employees and residents.

It takes a village to control light pollution…gently inspirational. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9834-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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Inspiring, adventurous fun for aspirational kids.

SADIE SPROCKET BUILDS A ROCKET

A little girl’s imaginative plan to become an astronaut and be the first to travel to Mars really takes off.

Together with a crew of stuffed animals (owl, rabbit, and teddy bear), Sadie Sprocket does her research, gathers materials to build her spaceship, and, with support from family and friends—and media coverage—embarks on her historic journey. Rhyming quatrains tell the story of how Sadie patiently reads, cooks, and records important data during the 100-day interplanetary journey. And then: “The Earth behind, so far away, / was now a tiny dot. / Then Sadie cried, ‘There’s planet Mars! / It’s smaller than I thought!’ ” After landing and gathering 20 bags of samples, Sadie and crew are stuck in a red sandstorm while trying to take off again. But with Sadie’s determination and can-do spirit, they blast off, safely returning to Earth with future heroic space-exploration ideas in mind. Spiky cartoons transform a child’s playroom into an outer-space venue, complete with twinkling stars and colorful planets. Sadie presents White while her encouraging fans feature more diversity. An addendum includes brief facts about Mars and a handful of women space scientists. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 50% of actual size.)

Inspiring, adventurous fun for aspirational kids. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1803-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

ROBOBABY

Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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