This will pique readers’ curiosity (and hopefully their gratitude at their privilege) but does not answer all the questions...

ADVENTURES TO SCHOOL

REAL-LIFE JOURNEYS OF STUDENTS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

U.S. readers who jump on a bus or walk a few blocks will marvel at what kids around the world will do to get an education.

In Canada, the child narrator helps his sisters onto the toboggan and then climbs on the snowmobile behind Grandpa. The four cross the frozen lake to the closest school, in Minnesota. In Bolivia, a teleférico connects two of the highest cities in the world, and it’s used daily by over 3,000 students. Other methods include a rickshaw (depicted here as a vehicle that looks like a cross between a jeep and an SUV) in Pakistan, a Japanese bullet train, and a motorbike (one adult and four children onboard!) in Cameroon. The Ethiopian and Ukrainian children face political and social dangers on their walks, and the rural Kenyan students must avoid Africa’s Big Five. Each journey’s description is allotted a double-page spread with a large illustration and the country’s flag. The sidebars at the edges, though, are often a jumble of unrelated facts that, though positive and possibly surprising to U.S. readers, add little. Many of the tales beg for more detail, and readers will feel the lack of a map and glossary. Backmatter includes a select bibliography of 49 resources and an update of some dangerous journeys previously broadcast on the internet. An authors’ note explains that the stories are composites and that they do not represent an entire country or even one specific season.

This will pique readers’ curiosity (and hopefully their gratitude at their privilege) but does not answer all the questions they will surely have. (Informational picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0665-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants.

A WORLD TOGETHER

Large color photographs (occasionally composed of montages) and accessible, simple text highlight global similarities and differences, always focusing on our universal connections.

While child readers may not recognize Manzano, the Puerto Rican actress who played Maria on Sesame Street, adults will recognize her as a trusted diverse voice. In her endnote, she explains her desire to “encourage lively conversations about shared experiences.” Starting out with the familiar, home and community, the text begins with “How many WONDERFUL PEOPLE do you know?” Then it moves out to the world: “Did you know there are about 8 BILLION PEOPLE on the planet?” The photo essay features the usual concrete similarities and differences found in many books of this type, such as housing (a Mongolian yurt opposite a Hong Kong apartment building overlooking a basketball court), food (dumplings, pizza, cotton candy, a churro, etc.), and school. Manzano also makes sure to point out likenesses in emotions, as shown in a montage of photos from countries including China, Spain, Kashmir (Pakistan/India), and the United States. At the end, a world map and thumbnail images show the locations of all photos, revealing a preponderance of examples from the U.S. and a slight underrepresentation for Africa and South America.

Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3738-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Vital information for young media consumers; it couldn’t be timelier.

FACTS VS. OPINIONS VS. ROBOTS

Charismatic robots populate this primer for kids growing up in an era when facts are considered debatable and opinions are oft expressed loudly and without empathy.

Rex tackles a very serious topic infrequently addressed in kids’ books: how to tell the difference between provable facts and far-less-provable opinions. To do this, Rex employs a handful of colorful and chatty robot pals who run through enough examples to make the distinctions clear. For instance, it’s a fact that the blue robot has two arms while the gold robot has four. However, while they both like to dance, it’s less certain there’s a definitive answer to the question: “Which of them has the coolest moves?” When the green and yellow robots share their preferences for ice cream (yes, robots eat ice cream, just add oil or nuts and bolts), it turns into a fight that might have come off a Twitter thread (“We are getting chocolate!” “No way, buckethead!”). Via a series of reboots, the robots learn how to respect opinions and engage in compromise. It’s a welcome use of skill-building to counter an information landscape filled with calls of “Fake news!” and toxic online discourse. Rex never says that these ’bots sometimes act like social media bots when they disagree, but he doesn’t have to. Perhaps most importantly, Rex’s robots demonstrate that in the absence of enough information, it’s perfectly fine to wait before acting.

Vital information for young media consumers; it couldn’t be timelier. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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