Watching this protagonist’s reluctant change of heart won’t get old; neither will the beckoning scenes of the great outdoors.

THE NOT-SO GREAT OUTDOORS

A school-age kid is grumpy about going on a family camping trip but eventually comes to appreciate what the outdoors has to offer.

Standing on the street in a very cool town, with its artsy soap and pottery stands and street musician, our protagonist, arms folded, tells the other kids, “I have no idea why we have to ‘venture into the great outdoors’ this summer,” but off they go, leaving the city behind and driving straight into the mountains. “It’s not like there’s anything out here,” the narrator continues, as the landscape turns thick with wildlife. “There’s no electricity,” is the next complaint, as the protagonist sits glumly, ignoring the campfire. The narrator misses the “city lights” even as mom points up at the aurora borealis. The others seem oblivious to this disgruntlement as they frolic, take pictures, and explore. After they spot bears (from the safety of the car), the narrator comes around. “Well, I guess I could get by with songbirds instead of street performers.” Fishing, biking, and incredible views are none too shabby either. The mixed-media illustrations use short strokes and deep color to render the fullness of the land with a calm energy. The narrator has brown skin and straight, black hair, as do baby sib and mom; dad presents white.

Watching this protagonist’s reluctant change of heart won’t get old; neither will the beckoning scenes of the great outdoors. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6417-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development.

DOUBLE PUPPY TROUBLE

From the McKellar Math series

A child who insists on having MORE of everything gets MORE than she can handle.

Demanding young Moxie Jo is delighted to discover that pushing the button on a stick she finds in the yard doubles anything she points to. Unfortunately, when she points to her puppy, Max, the button gets stuck—and in no time one dog has become two, then four, then eight, then….Readers familiar with the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” or Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona will know how this is going to go, and Masse obliges by filling up succeeding scenes with burgeoning hordes of cute yellow puppies enthusiastically making a shambles of the house. McKellar puts an arithmetical spin on the crisis—“The number of pups exponentially grew: / They each multiplied times a factor of 2!” When clumsy little brother Clark inadvertently intervenes, Moxie Jo is left wiser about her real needs (mostly). An appended section uses lemons to show how exponential doubling quickly leads to really big numbers. Stuart J. Murphy’s Double the Ducks (illustrated by Valeria Petrone, 2002) in the MathStart series explores doubling from a broader perspective and includes more backmatter to encourage further study, but this outing adds some messaging: Moxie Jo’s change of perspective may give children with sharing issues food for thought. She and her family are White; her friends are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-101-93386-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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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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