A marvelous spark for the imagination and motivation to learn more.

NANO

THE SPECTACULAR SCIENCE OF THE VERY (VERY) SMALL

What amazing things could be made from the very tiniest building blocks?

Physicist Wade provides an introduction to the science of new and to-be-discovered materials based on nanotechnology. “Everything is made out of something,” she begins, starting with a general, macro look at the world around us. Materials like paper, wood, metal, cotton, glass have different attributes: “light, heavy, strong, or flexible.” The way that atoms, or elements, are “mixed together” creates the attributes of the resulting material. Carbon, a “very important element” in the human body and “in every living thing,” can be found on its own as graphite, as in the soft substance in a pencil. One layer of carbon atoms makes up a new substance called graphene—“the strongest material known to human beings. If you made a tightrope out of graphene, an elephant could walk along it without breaking it.” Castrillón’s whimsical art is intriguingly paired with the subject matter, incorporating both the explanatory and speculative, using fine lines that seem delicate but are also robust—light but muscular, just like the materials Wade describes. Graphene and other nanomaterials have astonishing applications both current (lighter airplanes, self-washing windows) and potential (sieves that could make ocean water drinkable; nervelike connections that could help blind people see). (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A marvelous spark for the imagination and motivation to learn more. (further information, index) (Informational picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1766-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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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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