A dreamy tribute to summer days—and sea life and the spaces in-between.

DOWN UNDER THE PIER

Four friends revel in the sea riches secluded down under the pier.

Racing from Ferris wheel to carousel, Skee-Ball to whack-a-mole, the children exhaust all of the greatest pleasures on offer “up on the pier.” But when the rides are done and their money’s gone, they go below the pier, where “Fun is free, and the world is ours.” Sumpter’s cotton-candy–colored illustrations, paint and pastels on brown paper, deftly capture the bright lights of the pier above and then, the deeper, dazzling beauty of the creatures hiding below. Beckerman’s lightly repetitive, sometimes rhyming text imbues the narrative with a gentle surge and pull (“They don’t know what we know— / To slip down the stairs when the tide is low”), breaking in small moments of wonder and discovery. The four friends—two of whom appear to be white, a brown-skinned boy with tightly coiled brown hair, and a brown-skinned girl with straight black hair—trawl the pier’s underbelly unaccompanied by adults. They are young enough to find wonder in all of its treasures and just old enough to be allowed to wander off alone. The book concludes with a simple, engaging illustrated guide to some of the sea creatures that can be found in the intertidal zone.

A dreamy tribute to summer days—and sea life and the spaces in-between. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-944903-86-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cameron + Company

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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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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