CLAUDE

THE TRUE STORY OF A WHITE ALLIGATOR

The titular alligator’s life is chronicled, from his hatching in 1995 at a Louisiana alligator farm through his move to a Florida zoo to his current existence as a major attraction at the California Academy of Sciences.

The first double-page spread announces, “In a Louisiana swamp, a baby alligator cracked out of his shell.” The text goes on to tell all the ways in which this baby was similar to “his many brothers and sisters,” including calling them all “quite cute.” Amazingly, the pastel-hued, retro-feeling art does a fine job of echoing that sentiment, showing a bevy of not-entirely-anthropomorphized little critters emerging from their eggs in different poses. The eye is drawn to the sole (cute) white one as the text pronounces the fact that this alligator is called an albino. As the story unfolds, readers learn of the dangers faced by albino alligators, including the fact that other alligators feel uncomfortable around them. The theme of rejection due to difference is an intrinsic part of Claude’s story, so readers develop sympathy and empathy as they also learn facts about albinism and animal behavior. For 13 years, Claude lives in safety in a zoo—but also alone. When he is transported to San Francisco to a state-of-the-art museum swamp, a second (green) alligator is introduced—but after she injures Claude, he is alone again. Or is he? Art shows attention to diversity in people.

Sweet and engaging. (Q&A) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63217-269-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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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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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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