A warm invitation to visitors wheeled or in boots: “Come on over, rovers!” (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Two unexpected pets, Spirit and Opportunity, perk up the bored, lonely fourth planet.

In the spirit of their Moon’s First Friends: How the Moon Met the Astronauts From Apollo 11 (2019), Hill and Paganelli send a lonely Mars to his father, the Sun, for a pet. Denied (Pluto is the whole family’s pet), the planet goes from one anthropomorphic solar sibling to another on a seemingly fruitless quest for companionship. This culminates in the violent and exciting arrival of two speedy “little spacecrafts” sent from Earth as a family gift. Fondly watching the puppylike rovers trundle about his orange surface collecting rocks, playing in a sandstorm, and snuggling together for the night, Mars both promises to make them a good home and looks forward to the arrival of future “pets.” Smiling faces on all the planets, moons, and rovers in view—which are otherwise rendered with reasonable accuracy—give the outing a cozy tone overall. Better yet, though the rovers’ missions get barely a nod in the main narrative, a substantial epilogue fills in the blanks with basic facts about the solar system in general and Mars in particular, plus profiles of NASA and the entire company of Mars rovers from 1997’s Sojourner to 2012’s still-active Curiosity (with a note about an unnamed, upcoming “new pet”).

A warm invitation to visitors wheeled or in boots: “Come on over, rovers!” (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-0518-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020


From the J.D. the Kid Barber series , Vol. 2

A strong second outing for Dillard and J.D.

Breakout kid barber J.D. embraces a summer of opportunity.

Readers met J.D. Jones just as he took his hometown of Meridian, Mississippi, by storm, winning himself community acclaim and a chair at the revered Hart and Sons barbershop in series opener J.D. and the Great Barber Battle(2021). What’s next for the haircut prodigy? School’s just getting out, and there’s so much life happening outside—if only one can escape home learning with the grandparents. J.D.’s sister, Vanessa, brings along multitalented mutual friend Jessyka to share an ambitious challenge: “Let’s start a YouTube channel!” Can they get millions of views and wow the whole world? They are already amazing at haircuts and hairstyles—all they need is to learn how to make a great YouTube video. The story models strategies for scripting short videos reflecting the templates of viral YouTube hair tutorials, inviting readers to not only see the journey of the characters, but maybe also practice these skills at home. This book is bound to educate all about some of the most storied and cherished traditions within the Black community. Bringing in Vanessa is a great touch to extend the series across gender, and hopefully she’ll get a chance to lead her own adventures. This book blends skill-building, entrepreneurship, and strong family values to give young Black children visions of what’s possible when they follow their passions and embrace their community.

A strong second outing for Dillard and J.D. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11155-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021



From the Rafi and Rosi series

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape.

The fourth installment in Delacre’s early-reader series centers on the rich musical traditions of Puerto Rico, once again featuring sibling tree frogs Rafi and Rosi Coquí.

Readers learn along with Rafi and Rosi as they explore bomba, plena, and salsa in three chapters. A glossary at the beginning sets readers up well to understand the Spanish vocabulary, including accurate phoneticization for non-Spanish speakers. The stories focus on Rafi and Rosi’s relationship within a musical context. For example, in one chapter Rafi finds out that he attracts a larger audience playing his homemade güiro with Rosi’s help even though he initially excluded her: “Big brothers only.” Even when he makes mistakes, as the older brother, Rafi consoles Rosi when she is embarrassed or angry at him. In each instance, their shared joy for music and dance ultimately shines through any upsets—a valuable reflection of unity. Informational backmatter and author’s sources are extensive. Undoubtedly these will help teachers, librarians, and parents to develop Puerto Rican cultural programs, curriculum, or home activities to extend young readers’ learning. The inclusion of instructions to make one’s own homemade güiro is a thoughtful addition. The Spanish translation, also by Delacre and published simultaneously, will require a more advanced reader than the English one to recognize and comprehend contractions (“pa’bajo-pa-pa’rriba”) and relatively sophisticated vocabulary.

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape. (Early reader. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-89239-429-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

Close Quickview