The titular baobab is an ancient tree in Maiko’s East African village, the site of his fondest memories of playing with...

DEAR BAOBAB

Maiko experiences an orphan’s loneliness and an immigrant’s unease but eventually finds comfort in his new home.

The titular baobab is an ancient tree in Maiko’s East African village, the site of his fondest memories of playing with friends who didn’t say “that his ears struck straight out from his head.” After his parents die (no cause is mentioned), he goes to North America to live with his aunt and uncle. His only friend is a small spruce tree, 7 years old like Maiko, growing too close to his suburban house’s foundation. His spiritual communion with this tree is so strong that he tries to save it when his aunt and uncle want to cut it down. Watercolors with pleasantly loose ink lines show generic scenes in Africa and multicultural North America. Maiko makes friends with Li, but Leonard, another classmate, continually makes fun of his ears (which do not appear unusual in the illustrations). Maiko has experienced his first Halloween and Christmas when, without explanation, Leonard stops making fun of him. Readers might wonder, too, whether Maiko’s ability to hear the spruce’s "song" is too sweetly poetic. On his 8th birthday in spring, in a neat resolution, the family finds a perfect home for the spruce.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-897187-91-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Second Story Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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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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A surprisingly nuanced lesson set in confidence-building, easy-to-decode text.

BO'S MAGICAL NEW FRIEND

From the Unicorn Diaries series , Vol. 1

A unicorn learns a friendship lesson in this chapter-book series opener.

Unicorn Bo has friends but longs for a “bestie.” Luckily, a new unicorn pops into existence (literally: Unicorns appear on especially starry nights) and joins Bo at the Sparklegrove School for Unicorns, where they study things like unicorn magic. Each unicorn has a special power; Bo’s is granting wishes. Not knowing what his own might be distresses new unicorn Sunny. When the week’s assignment is to earn a patch by using their unicorn powers to help someone, Bo hopes Sunny will wish to know Bo's power (enabling both unicorns to complete the task, and besides, Bo enjoys Sunny’s company and wants to help him). But when the words come out wrong, Sunny thinks Bo was feigning friendship to get to grant a wish and earn a patch, setting up a fairly sophisticated conflict. Bo makes things up to Sunny, and then—with the unicorns friends again and no longer trying to force their powers—arising circumstances enable them to earn their patches. The cheerful illustrations feature a sherbet palette, using patterns for texture; on busy pages with background colors similar to the characters’ color schemes, this combines with the absence of outlines to make discerning some individual characters a challenge. The format, familiar to readers of Elliott’s Owl Diaries series, uses large print and speech bubbles to keep pages to a manageable amount of text.

A surprisingly nuanced lesson set in confidence-building, easy-to-decode text. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-32332-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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