A solid introduction to a complex topic.

THE SECRET CODE INSIDE YOU

ALL ABOUT YOUR DNA

Operating on three levels, this book will help readers crack their own secret codes.

As they begin their exploration of the concept of DNA, the youngest listeners will be drawn in with questions featuring fun animals and text with internal and end rhymes, alliteration, and puns. “Why aren’t you finny like a fish, / or grinny like a shark? / Why can’t you catch flies with your tongue, / or / see / things / in / the / dark?” Describing DNA as “twisted ladders, or tiny, twirling noodles” creates accessible concrete images for children. The science ramps up for slightly older readers and discusses how personal traits like height or the size of a child’s nose, ears, or hands are determined by the DNA that parents and grandparents share with their children. Definitions and explanations of key vocabulary like genes and chromosomes are clear, but the rhyming format creates the occasional awkward phrase. Dynamic and eye-catching illustrations on later pages emphasize the difference between genetic coding and each person’s unique choices. “[DNA] makes the color of your eyes, / but YOU choose where to look: / at butterflies or sunset skies, / or even at this book.” Personal choice also determines how someone uses their muscles and chooses an occupation. For older readers or the more science curious, the backmatter is full of DNA facts and explanations, URLs to child-friendly websites, and a well-designed and -explained experiment to extract DNA from a banana.

A solid introduction to a complex topic. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4998-1075-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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A delightful story of love and hope.

OUR SUBWAY BABY

Families are formed everywhere—including large metropolitan mass-transit systems!

Baby Kevin, initially known as “Danny ACE Doe,” was found in the New York City’s 14th Street subway station, which serves the A-C-E lines, by one of his future fathers, Danny. Kevin’s other father, Pete (author Mercurio), serves as the narrator, explaining how the two men came to add the newborn to their family. Readers are given an abridged version of the story from Danny and Pete’s point of view as they work to formally adopt Kevin and bring him home in time for Christmas. The story excels at highlighting the determination of loving fathers while still including realistic moments of hesitation, doubt, and fear that occur for new and soon-to-be parents. The language is mindful of its audience (for example using “piggy banks” instead of “bank accounts” to discuss finances) while never patronizing young readers. Espinosa’s posterlike artwork—which presents the cleanest New York readers are ever likely to see—extends the text and makes use of unexpected angles to heighten emotional scenes and moments of urgency. The diversity of skin tones, ages, and faces (Danny and Pete both present white, and Kevin has light brown skin) befits the Big Apple. Family snapshots and a closing author’s note emphasize that the most important thing in any family is love. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.3-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 43% of actual size.)

A delightful story of love and hope. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-42754-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard.

HELLO AUTUMN!

Rotner follows Hello Spring (2017) with this salute to the fall season.

Name a change seen in northern climes in fall, and Rotner likely covers it here, from plants, trees, and animals to the food we harvest: seeds are spread, the days grow shorter and cooler, the leaves change and fall (and are raked up and jumped in), some animals migrate, and many families celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving. As in the previous book, the photographs (presented in a variety of sizes and layouts, all clean) are the stars here, displaying both the myriad changes of the season and a multicultural array of children enjoying the outdoors in fall. These are set against white backgrounds that make the reddish-orange print pop. The text itself uses short sentences and some solid vocabulary (though “deep sleep” is used instead of “hibernate”) to teach readers the markers of autumn, though in the quest for simplicity, Rotner sacrifices some truth. In several cases, the addition of just a few words would have made the following oversimplified statements reflect reality: “Birds grow more feathers”; “Cranberries float and turn red.” Also, Rotner includes the statement “Bees store extra honey in their hives” on a page about animals going into deep sleep, implying that honeybees hibernate, which is false.

Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3869-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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