A funny and intimate behind-the-scenes look at royal family life by the National Book Award–winning Whelan (Homeless Bird,...

QUEEN VICTORIA'S BATHING MACHINE

The Victorian era is often caricatured as a time of excessive modesty, and this buoyant, rhyming picture book highlights a royal example with affection and good humor.

Queen Victoria longs for a summer swim, but even when she’s vacationing at her informal residence on the Isle of Wight, decorum prevents her from traipsing down to the beach in her bathing suit—it would expose her queenly knees! Her doting husband, Prince Albert, invents a “bathing machine,” a caravan of sorts in which his wife can change out of her corset and petticoats in privacy and be wheeled straight into the water: “You climb down the steps in perfect repose, / into the ocean right up to your nose. / No one will get so much as a peep, / except for the creatures down in the deep.” Jaunty Seuss-ian rhymes (most effective when read aloud with an English accent) tell the amusing true-life story, and gleeful pen-and-watercolor illustrations of the royal family—including nine busy children—spill into lively double-page spreads. In one Monty Python–esque scene, Queen Victoria is unceremoniously flipped into the Atlantic via catapult, one of her husband’s earlier queen-transportation solutions. The book’s crown jewel? The underwater queen blissfully blowing bubbles with the fish.

A funny and intimate behind-the-scenes look at royal family life by the National Book Award–winning Whelan (Homeless Bird, 2000). (author’s note, photo of actual bathing machine, bibliography, websites) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4169-2753-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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An accessible introduction to coding rules that also easily entertains.

HOW TO CODE A SANDCASTLE

A girl named Pearl programs a (rust-proof) robot to help her build sand castles in this new addition to the Girls Who Code organization’s book program.

The last day of summer vacation is Pearl’s last chance to build a sand castle. All her prior attempts have fallen victim to comic mishaps (such as a “moat” contributed by dog Ada Puglace). For backup, she brings her robot, Pascal, with whom she breaks down the full task—building the sand castle—into small problems: finding a place to build via specific instructions, gathering sand via a sequence (and more efficiently with a loop), and decorating the castle via an IF-THEN-ELSE statement. After she works out the kinks, the oncoming tide throws Pearl for a new loop—literally, as she reuses her previous computer code while adding a moat feature to handle the tide. The cheerful mixed-media illustrations and warm color palette fit both the subject matter and the can-do spirit of the book. The computer science terms are demonstrated in clear, concise ways, allowing them to be mined for humor (such as Pascal’s attempts to place the sand castle in unsuitable places until Pearl learns to be very specific), and serve the story without feeling obtrusive or too much like lessons. The backmatter gives fuller explanations of the terms. Pearl has brown skin and textured, black pigtails, and the other beachgoers are racially diverse.

An accessible introduction to coding rules that also easily entertains. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-425-29198-6

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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A bright, bold picture-book biography that challenges conceptions of masculinity and strength.

STRONG

The first openly gay strongman overhauls stereotypes.

Whether opening “the TIGHTEST pickle jars” or carrying many packed grocery bags into the house all at once, Rob Kearney is a strong kid. As he grows up, he finds his calling in strength sports. A teacher introduces 17-year-old Rob to the Strongman competition, kindling his dream of becoming a weightlifting champion. First, he trains to lift 150 pounds, then 200, then 300, then 400—the equivalent of “more than 800 STUFFED RAINBOW UNICORNS.” Despite all of his training, Rob flounders at his first big competition since he doesn’t feel quite right in his “boring” and “bleak” weightlifting gear. That changes when Rob falls in love with Joey, who pushes Rob to wear whatever “bright, bold colors” he wants. But can Rob win the title of “strongest person in North America?” Real-life strongman Kearney and LGBTQ+ parenting expert Rosswood team up to create this positive, affirming picture-book memoir. Although one scene depicts an instance of dress code discrimination, the story maintains a sunny tone. Certain words are bolded throughout the text for emphasis, particularly those related to Rob’s impressive feats. Rob and Joey are both White and have mohawks, but Chanani’s colorful digital illustrations depict ethnically diverse spectators. Backmatter delves more deeply into strongman events and—staying within the gender binary—mentions the existence of “a separate strongwoman division.” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A bright, bold picture-book biography that challenges conceptions of masculinity and strength. (author's note, bibliography) (Picture-book biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-29290-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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