Despite its flaws, an intriguing stab at bringing people of the world closer.

HELLO WORLD

An attractive lift-the-flap book encourages children to learn about the world and its languages.

The book is positively festooned with flaps of varying sizes placed on maps. Most small flaps present the word for “hello” in the country or region it is placed upon; beneath are its phonetic pronunciation, the language name, and the number of speakers. Many double-page spreads are continental maps. The first spread features a world map with 10 widely spoken languages labeled, and the last shows this map again, with “good-bye” in these same languages along with several more beneath two large flaps. Unfortunately, the maps don’t include country names. Some places where languages matter are omitted; for example, the country of Belgium, with its French and Flemish speakers, doesn’t appear. There is a chart with eight major languages spoken in the U.S. There is no indication that English is the official language of Ghana and Nigeria, although the flap on Mali says that French is the official language in 25 African countries. Observant readers can search the continental maps for small people, generally pictured in traditional clothing with the retro look of old children’s atlases; the United States is represented by a white football player and Canada by a white voyageur, a white lumberjack, and a parka-clad Inuk.

Despite its flaws, an intriguing stab at bringing people of the world closer. (Informational novelty book. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-944530-00-6

Page Count: 16

Publisher: 360 Degrees

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

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Thought-provoking and charming.

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THE WILD ROBOT

A sophisticated robot—with the capacity to use senses of sight, hearing, and smell—is washed to shore on an island, the only robot survivor of a cargo of 500.

When otters play with her protective packaging, the robot is accidently activated. Roz, though without emotions, is intelligent and versatile. She can observe and learn in service of both her survival and her principle function: to help. Brown links these basic functions to the kind of evolution Roz undergoes as she figures out how to stay dry and intact in her wild environment—not easy, with pine cones and poop dropping from above, stormy weather, and a family of cranky bears. She learns to understand and eventually speak the language of the wild creatures (each species with its different “accent”). An accident leaves her the sole protector of a baby goose, and Roz must ask other creatures for help to shelter and feed the gosling. Roz’s growing connection with her environment is sweetly funny, reminiscent of Randall Jarrell’s The Animal Family. At every moment Roz’s actions seem plausible and logical yet surprisingly full of something like feeling. Robot hunters with guns figure into the climax of the story as the outside world intrudes. While the end to Roz’s benign and wild life is startling and violent, Brown leaves Roz and her companions—and readers—with hope.

Thought-provoking and charming. (Science fiction/fantasy. 7-11)

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-38199-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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A spirited, duplicable depiction of STEM fun.

ELLIE, ENGINEER

Ellie navigates secrets and gender conflicts while trying to create an amazing birthday gift.

Ellie and her best friend, Kit, overhear Kit’s mother talking about Kit’s upcoming birthday, and she mentions “Miss Penelope”—the name Kit’s picked out for a dog (her stepfather’s and sister’s dog allergies complicate her wish). When Ellie’s first attempt at a birthday gift doesn’t go so well (Ellie has a healthy, relaxed attitude about trial and error and perseverance), she decides to make a doghouse for Miss Penelope. To complete such a grand project in so few days, she enlists help from eager engineering student Toby and an artistic trio of girls named Madison, Taylor, and McKinley (they draw a comic book called The Presidents)—but she doesn’t let them know about one another, as the trio and the neighborhood boys don’t get along. Ellie feels guilty about her deception as well as for deceiving Kit so she can spend time away from her working on the doghouse. Eventually, she’s caught and must come clean. This she does neatly in a way that explicitly rejects the idea that activities and objects are gendered (e.g., boys and girls can both like engineering and tea parties). Throughout, she engineers both pranks and inventive ways around various obstacles, always using common materials. (Mourning supplies diagrams of both, amplifying the humor.) The twist ending is not what most readers will expect. Characters lack physical descriptions, but Ellie’s depicted with pale skin on the cover.

A spirited, duplicable depiction of STEM fun. (tool guide) (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-519-3

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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