There’s a lot to love here for readers who can look past those pronouns.

TREES

A book of poetry that celebrates trees.

Each double-page spread has a nonrhyming poem about a specific type of tree accompanied by art showing the tree in its environment. The first spread is the only one divergent from the pattern, with this pleasant, succinct introduction: “Each tree offers / a story / a clue / a dance / that makes it / its very own / self.” These words show up clearly in white against a gray-green late-autumn background. Different varieties of trees along with several people can be seen from an aerial view as bright leaves swirl about. There is a feeling of exuberance. Throughout the well-laid-out book, the art, a skilled merging of printmaking and digital techniques, deftly complements the text, using facts about each tree to create divergent moods—including a surprisingly foreboding mood at the end. Language is elegant and accessible, with personification as the useful, key poetic device. One significant shortcoming: Every tree-descriptive poem but the final two contains a gender-specific—and often stereotypical—pronoun. Some of the funnier poems require gender for their imagery, such as imagining a scraggly white pine as an “unruly uncle.” However, unnecessarily, the musical maple offers “her” sap after a long, dark winter; “Silly Palm” wears all “her” leaves on top; the mighty oak is, of course, male. Fortunately, the art for each tree is realistic, if stylized. If the aspen danced on its “tippy toes,” readers would still see the same tree swaying in the wind.

There’s a lot to love here for readers who can look past those pronouns. (Picture book/poetry. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4707-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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Informative yet optimistic, this cri du coeur from Planet Awesome deserves wide attention.

OUR PLANET! THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE EARTH

From the Our Universe series , Vol. 6

The sixth in McAnulty’s Our Universe series focuses on Earth’s human-caused problems, offering some family-level activities for mitigation.

Vivaciously narrated by “Planet Awesome,” the text establishes facts about how Earth’s location with regard to the sun allows life to flourish, the roles of the ocean and atmosphere, and the distinctions between weather and climate. McAnulty clearly explains how people have accelerated climate change “because so many human things need energy.” Soft-pedaling, she avoids overt indictment of fossil fuels: “Sometimes energy leads to dirty water, dirty land, and dirty air.” Dire changes are afoot: “Some land is flooding. Other land is too dry—and hot. YIKES! Not good.” “And when I’m in trouble, Earthlings are in trouble, too.” Litchfield’s engaging art adds important visual information where the perky text falls short. On one spread, a factory complex spews greenhouse gases in three plumes, each identified by the chemical symbols for carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Throughout, planet Earth is appealingly represented with animated facial features and arms—one green, one blue. The palette brightens and darkens in sync with the text’s respective messages of hope and alarm. Final pages introduce alternative energy sources—wind, hydro, solar, and “human power—that’s from your own two feet.” Lastly, Earth provides excellent ideas for hyperlocal change, from buying less new stuff to planting trees. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Informative yet optimistic, this cri du coeur from Planet Awesome deserves wide attention. (author’s note, numerical facts, atmospheric facts, ideas for action, sources) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-78249-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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Despite minor bumps, a ride that’s worth returning to.

HOW TO CODE A ROLLERCOASTER

Pearl and her robot, Pascal, take their coding skills for a spin at the amusement park in this Girls Who Code picture book, a follow-up to How To Code a Sandcastle (2018).

The park has many rides to choose from, and Pearl has 10 tokens to last her the day. But her favorite ride, the Python roller coaster, looks busy. Pearl decides to do something else fun, using code concepts such as variables to keep track of the length of the line and her remaining tokens and a conditional statement to decide when to return to the Python. Throughout, computer science terms are defined crisply in the text and vividly illustrated in the pictures, which use images such as popcorn bags for variables and the Ferris wheel for loops (keeping track of ice cream flavors seems somewhat contrived). The backmatter explains these ideas more fully. Pascal’s too-literal interpretations of Pearl’s statements make for several amusing moments along the way. When Pearl runs short of tokens (a missed opportunity to talk about checking for more than one condition?), she’s undaunted by the disaster, taking readers on a fun hunt for a secret hidden password, in a nod to the importance of proper sequencing. Pearl has brown skin and black curls; others at the park have a variety of skin tones.

Despite minor bumps, a ride that’s worth returning to. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-425-29203-7

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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