A NEW GREEN DAY

In a series of nature riddles that beg to be read aloud, a child finds joy and wonder in the great outdoors.

Prolific author and illustrator Portis leads readers through a summer day spent outside. Through gentle, brain-teasing verse, aspects of the natural world introduce themselves to the story’s only human character, who sports dark pigtails and a warm brown complexion. As readers follow along, they too are treated to a delightful guessing game: Based on the poetically brief clues, what everyday plant, animal, or weather pattern is calling out to be discovered by the protagonist? For example: “I’m a mountain that moves. Look, I come to you,” one clue begins. With the turn of the page, the natural element’s identity is revealed with the simple completion of the sentence: “says cloud,” here accompanied by a breezy, textured illustration of an overcast sky. Because the answer to each riddle is declared on the subsequent spread, readers have a chance to brainstorm as they approach each intimation. Though this formula carries throughout the text, the book remains straightforward and engaging thanks to Portis’ fresh take on familiar outdoor sights. Very young children will love reading along with adults, who can help them make sense of the sometimes-abstract hints; older kids will have fun making guesses on their own. This sweet celebration of summertime, nature, and youthful curiosity is a worthy addition to school and public libraries and personal collections alike.

Simple, poetic, and fun. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4488-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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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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