An inspiration.

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PRAIRIE DOG SONG

THE KEY TO SAVING NORTH AMERICA'S GRASSLANDS

Following their Sibert Award–winning Parrots Over Puerto Rico, Roth and Trumbore turn to prairie dogs.

Each double-page spread includes a collage, a verse from a cumulative song based on “And the Green Grass Grew All Around,” and text detailing the evolving history and ecological significance of prairie dogs in North America. The clever layout makes this a book that can grow with its readers. For little ones, the large-print words of the song can be used along with the amazing artwork; older readers can move on to the highly informative, engaging narrative. The song teaches succinctly about the biodiversity of the prairie habitat before farmers and ranchers, the near-extinction of the entire habitat, and the return to biodiversity once the importance of the prairie dogs was recognized. In flowing, conversational language, the text for older readers includes such subjects as 19th-century, government-sanctioned prairie dog poisoning and how, in 1988, the prairie dog was finally recognized as a keystone species—one on which an entire ecosystem depends. The ongoing tale is uplifting, as individual people, organizations, and, finally, the government of Mexico have helped to bring back both the prairie dog and the prairie. Although the song’s scansion is rough at times—“owls bur-rowed” could have been “owls bur-rowed in”—adult readers can compensate for this, and the entire book is a worthy work of science-and-arts integration.

An inspiration. (additional facts, timeline, glossary, sources) (Informational picture book. 5-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62014-245-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Thought-provoking and charming.

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THE WILD ROBOT

A sophisticated robot—with the capacity to use senses of sight, hearing, and smell—is washed to shore on an island, the only robot survivor of a cargo of 500.

When otters play with her protective packaging, the robot is accidently activated. Roz, though without emotions, is intelligent and versatile. She can observe and learn in service of both her survival and her principle function: to help. Brown links these basic functions to the kind of evolution Roz undergoes as she figures out how to stay dry and intact in her wild environment—not easy, with pine cones and poop dropping from above, stormy weather, and a family of cranky bears. She learns to understand and eventually speak the language of the wild creatures (each species with its different “accent”). An accident leaves her the sole protector of a baby goose, and Roz must ask other creatures for help to shelter and feed the gosling. Roz’s growing connection with her environment is sweetly funny, reminiscent of Randall Jarrell’s The Animal Family. At every moment Roz’s actions seem plausible and logical yet surprisingly full of something like feeling. Robot hunters with guns figure into the climax of the story as the outside world intrudes. While the end to Roz’s benign and wild life is startling and violent, Brown leaves Roz and her companions—and readers—with hope.

Thought-provoking and charming. (Science fiction/fantasy. 7-11)

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-38199-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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Cool and stylish.

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ADA TWIST, SCIENTIST

Her intellectual curiosity is surpassed only by her passion for science. But what to do about her messy experiments?

Ada is speechless until she turns 3. But once she learns how to break out of her crib, there’s no stopping the kinky-haired, brown-skinned girl. “She tore through the house on a fact-finding spree.” When she does start speaking, her favorite words are “why,” “how,” and “when.” Her parents, a fashion-forward black couple who sport a variety of trendy outfits, are dumbfounded, and her older brother can only point at her in astonishment. She amazes her friends with her experiments. Ada examines all the clocks in the house, studies the solar system, and analyzes all the smells she encounters. Fortunately, her parents stop her from putting the cat in the dryer, sending her instead to the Thinking Chair. But while there, she covers the wall with formulae. What can her parents do? Instead of punishing her passion, they decide to try to understand it. “It’s all in the heart of a young scientist.” Though her plot is negligible—Ada’s parents arguably change more than she does—Beaty delightfully advocates for girls in science in her now-trademark crisply rhyming text. Roberts’ illustrations, in watercolor, pen, and ink, manage to be both smart and silly; the page compositions artfully evoke the tumult of Ada’s curiosity, filling white backgrounds with questions and clutter.

Cool and stylish. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2137-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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