Both a bubbly historical account of umbrellas and a lighthearted tale of embracing change.

JONAS HANWAY'S SCURRILOUS, SCANDALOUS, SHOCKINGLY SENSATIONAL UMBRELLA

Rebellion sometimes comes in surprising packages….

Umbrellas are considered perfectly acceptable and commonplace today, but in the 1750s in England—where “On some days, it drizzled. On others, it muzzled. On others, it pelted and showered and spat”—they were considered foolish and ridiculous. “It’s not what we do,” the people of London said, until a man named Jonas Hanway was inspired to keep dry by taking a stand and pulling out his own umbrella, much to the consternation of those around him. Lively and colorful watercolors combine with bouncing onomatopoeia and other wordplay to show the cranky Hanway, a man who disliked change yet hated rain so much he traveled around the world in search of a place where it didn’t exist. When he sees umbrellas in action in Persia, he falls in love. His use of the seemingly frivolous object eventually causes its adoption into genteel English society. This deceptively simple historical selection lightly touches on originality, innovation, xenophobia, and cultural sharing and change while explaining how perception and reality can conflict. In the 18th-century scenes, characters are depicted as white in England and with brown skin in Persia, but a scene of modern London is appropriately diverse (and rainy). Endnotes include a brief history of the umbrella.

Both a bubbly historical account of umbrellas and a lighthearted tale of embracing change. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62414-885-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 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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