A delightful blend of fact and fiction.

ZEE GROWS A TREE

A little girl and a Douglas fir grow together on a Christmas tree farm.

On the day of Zee’s birth, a Douglas-fir seedling, planted by her parents, also sprouts. Zee’s parents take care of Zee and her tree, and both “[grow] bigger and stronger.” When Zee starts preschool, her tree is transplanted outdoors. As Zee makes new friends and learns the alphabet, her tree experiences new animals and changing weather. On her fourth birthday, Zee is shorter than her classmates and her tree is shorter than other trees, but that summer both have growth spurts. When Zee starts kindergarten, she “[gets] a whole new look,” and her tree is pruned into a “perfect cone shape.” And on it goes, Rusch’s gentle text describing her protagonists’ parallel growth. Zee’s education continues in first grade, and her tree learns “how to turn a branch into a new treetop.” Zee’s adult teeth grow in, and her tree sprouts new branches. During a spring and summer drought, Zee, now old enough to take part in its care, faithfully waters her parched tree, going on to mulch it in fall and screen it in winter. By Zee’s eighth birthday, her tree is old and tall enough to be a Christmas tree. Informative factual text about Douglas firs and their care accompanies each stage of Zee’s and her tree’s parallel growth while gentle, realistic illustrations, rendered in soft color washes, visually chronicle their emerging relationship. Zee and her parents present White.

A delightful blend of fact and fiction. (index, author's note, bibliography) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9754-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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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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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 Books

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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