This home-away-home story takes flight with its poetic text and a few extraordinary seascape illustrations.

AN OWL AT SEA

Based on an actual occurrence, this picture book tells the story of a short-eared owl—a marsh and field dweller—that lands on an oil-drilling platform far out in the ocean.

An owl is found on the deck of an oil rig in the North Sea, miles from its native habitat of fields and marshes. The exhausted bird is cared for by the riggers until a helicopter bringing in the new work shift and supplies takes the owl back to land and to a bird-rescue facility. There, the owl is cared for and eventually released back into the wild. This simple home-away-home story is delivered in author Vande Griek’s emotive, poetic text, the spare words of which, surrounded by the white of the page, conjure up a powerful sense of place and action: “No place to rest, / no mouse to hear, / only the swing, / the roar / of the sea.” Illustrator Wallace’s command of the difficult watercolor technique in depicting the powerful heave and growl of the sea is exquisite—the two full-page bleeds of open ocean seascapes (some crossing the gutter) delight the eye. Alas, the illustrations depicting the oil rig and its somewhat racially diverse workers are less graceful, competent but not transcendent. The final page gives an informative overview of the habits of short-eared owls and lists sources and further reading.

This home-away-home story takes flight with its poetic text and a few extraordinary seascape illustrations. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77306-111-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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A good choice for a late fall storytime.

SNACK, SNOOZE, SKEDADDLE

HOW ANIMALS GET READY FOR WINTER

Animal behaviors change as they prepare to face the winter.

Migrate, hibernate, or tolerate. With smooth rhymes and jaunty illustrations, Salas and Gévry introduce three strategies animals use for coping with winter cold. The author’s long experience in imparting information to young readers is evident in her selection of familiar animals and in her presentation. Spread by spread she introduces her examples, preparing in fall and surviving in winter. She describes two types of migration: Hummingbirds and monarchs fly, and blue whales travel to the warmth of the south; earthworms burrow deeper into the earth. Without using technical words, she introduces four forms of hibernation—chipmunks nap and snack; bears mainly sleep; Northern wood frogs become an “icy pop,” frozen until spring; and normally solitary garter snakes snuggle together in huge masses. Those who can tolerate the winter still change behavior. Mice store food and travel in tunnels under the snow; moose grow a warmer kind of fur; the red fox dives into the snow to catch small mammals (like those mice); and humans put on warm clothes and play. The animals in the soft pastel illustrations are recognizable, more cuddly than realistic, and quite appealing; their habitats are stylized. The humans represent varied ethnicities. Each page includes two levels of text, and there’s further information in the extensive backmatter. Pair with Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen’s Winter Bees (2014).

A good choice for a late fall storytime. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2900-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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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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