A story that honors both tradition and its young protagonist’s desire to live in the present.

VIVIAN AND THE LEGEND OF THE HOODOOS

Paiute protagonist Vivian tries to find a way to connect her people’s traditions with the modern world.

No longer a little girl, preteen Vivian questions Grandma’s insistence on gathering pine nuts in the time-consuming traditional way. Basketball try-outs will start in three hours, and she hopes to make the team. Besides, Vivian already knows the story of how Sinawav the coyote punished the Old Ones for their greed by changing them into rocky hoodoos. From science class, she also knows that erosion has formed the stone columns. Grandma understands the science too, but she still insists they gather in the traditional Paiute way. When Vivian practices basketball shots with the pine cones, Grandma turns this lack of respect into a learning opportunity. She leads Vivian to the site of an ancestral village and shows her a pottery sherd, a bone awl, and obsidian chips, and explains how they were used. Through this experience, Vivian gains a deeper understanding of how their Paiute ancestors respected the interdependence of all creatures. Jennings’ carefully crafted text weaves a lyrical story that blends the present with the rich heritage of the Paiute culture. She also includes comprehensive backmatter that offers parents and teachers historical and scientific facts. Saroff’s luminous use of color and her attention to details complement the story, though her photorealistic humans sometimes appear rather stiff.

A story that honors both tradition and its young protagonist’s desire to live in the present. (bibliography) (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62855-9576

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Arbordale Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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Informative, empowering, and fun.

ROX'S SECRET CODE

Girl power abounds in this book about coding that introduces young readers to the world of programming while offering them hands-on activities via a companion app.

In this title that was first introduced as a customizable, personalized print-on-demand product, Rox has a superpower. Using code, she programs toy robots that can do things like make broccoli disappear—or mischief. When Dad tells Rox to clean her room, she quickly thinks up a bot that will do it for her, writing code that instructs her bot to use artificial intelligence to sort objects by color and type. Though Rox knows that there’s a high potential for her creation to rebel, the perks outweigh any potential adverse effects. Rox’s robot has her room neat and tidy in no time—and then the entire home. Chorebot’s AI allows it to keep learning, and it seems Chorebot can do no wrong until the robot decides to rearrange the entire city (both buildings and people) by type, style, and gender. Chorebot goes “out of his artificial mind!” Rox must now stop her creation…without the assistance of the internet. The artwork, styled in the tradition of popular superhero series, is peppy and colorful, and it depicts Rox as an adorable black girl donning a black bomber jacket and a pink tutu. A companion app (not available for review) allows readers to create a bot of their own.

Informative, empowering, and fun. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-57687-899-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: POW!

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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