Light on actual science but big on creativity.


From the Goldie Blox and the Gearheads series , Vol. 1

GoldieBlox, the internet’s favorite girls-and-engineering toy, expands into chapter books.

After an unfortunate incident involving launching the second floor of Goldie’s old school into orbit—the Blox School, where the white girl’s mother teaches a handful of students—results in the school’s closure, Goldie’s sent to the prestigious Higgs Bozon Prep. Despite the company of her best friend, Li Zhang, a Chinese-American boy who loves physics and skateboarding, HiBo’s rigid rules and conventional conformity are no fit for a wild, creative inventor like Goldie. So she rounds up a team of potential allies: those who want to purge her zaniness from the school (black coder and fashionista Ruby Rails; purple-haired, brown-skinned, shy musician Val; and white, snobby Zeek Zander, the mayor’s son, who excels at spending money and math). Through working together in the rebuild (and catching the mayor in a net to force him to listen to their arguments about why the Blox School must reopen), Goldie builds strong friendships with Ruby and Val, who decide that the inventive, fun chaos that disorganized, impulsive Goldie brings makes it worth having her around. There isn’t much in the way of STEM content in this series opener, a proliferation of gadgets notwithstanding, but that may come in time, and the affirmation of the role of the imagination in tech is a welcome one.

Light on actual science but big on creativity. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-55634-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so...


From the Julian Lennon White Feather Flier Adventure series , Vol. 1

A pro bono Twinkie of a book invites readers to fly off in a magic plane to bring clean water to our planet’s oceans, deserts, and brown children.

Following a confusingly phrased suggestion beneath a soft-focus world map to “touch the Earth. Now touch where you live,” a shake of the volume transforms it into a plane with eyes and feathered wings that flies with the press of a flat, gray “button” painted onto the page. Pressing like buttons along the journey releases a gush of fresh water from the ground—and later, illogically, provides a filtration device that changes water “from yucky to clean”—for thirsty groups of smiling, brown-skinned people. At other stops, a tap on the button will “help irrigate the desert,” and touching floating bottles and other debris in the ocean supposedly makes it all disappear so the fish can return. The 20 children Coh places on a globe toward the end are varied of skin tone, but three of the four young saviors she plants in the flier’s cockpit as audience stand-ins are white. The closing poem isn’t so openly parochial, though it seldom rises above vague feel-good sentiments: “Love the Earth, the moon and sun. / All the children can be one.”

“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so easy to clean the place up and give everyone a drink? (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-2083-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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Hurray for the underdog.


Heart (-shaped surface feature) literally broken by its demotion from planet status, Pluto glumly conducts readers on a tour of the solar system.

You’d be bummed, too. Angrily rejecting the suggestions of “mean scientists” from Earth that “ice dwarf” or “plutoid” might serve as well (“Would you like to be called humanoid?”), Pluto drifts out of the Kuiper Belt to lead readers past the so-called “real” planets in succession. All sport faces with googly eyes in Keller’s bright illustrations, and distinct personalities, too—but also actual physical characteristics (“Neptune is pretty icy. And gassy. I’m not being mean, he just is”) that are supplemented by pages of “fun facts” at the end. Having fended off Saturn’s flirtation, endured Jupiter’s stormy reception (“Keep OFF THE GAS!”) and relentless mockery from the asteroids, and given Earth the cold shoulder, Pluto at last takes the sympathetic suggestion of Venus and Mercury to talk to the Sun. “She’s pretty bright.” A (what else?) warm welcome, plus our local star’s comforting reminders that every celestial body is unique (though “people talk about Uranus for reasons I don’t really want to get into”), and anyway, scientists are still arguing the matter because that’s what “science” is all about, mend Pluto’s heart at last: “Whatever I’m called, I’ll always be PLUTO!”

Hurray for the underdog. (afterword) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1453-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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