A magical tour of the natural wonders of the African continent tied with a celebration of the cultural foundations of...

THE AFRICAN ORCHESTRA

In simple and magical verse, Hartmann transports readers to the beautiful landscapes of Africa with a celebration of African music and instruments and the accompanying splendid natural sounds that birthed them.

Soft mixed-media illustrations with a strong emphasis on watercolors provide the backdrop for this celebration of African cultural contributions and the natural wonders that offered their inspiration. Hartmann eloquently writes, “In the beginning, when all things began, / these were the sounds which were music to man,” reminding readers of the long history of Africa as the motherland for all human beings. Featured in the onomatopoeic orchestra are the clicking of crickets, the crackle of fire, the “cr-i-sshh” of seedpod rattles, the “hummmm” of honeybees, and the “rumble” and “boo-oom” of the hooved animals of the grassland. Birds, frogs, and zebras are found along with choruses of traditionally dressed African men and women. “Through African nights and African days,” Hartmann emphasizes, “THIS is the music that the orchestra plays!” With its onomatopoeia, it’s a natural for participatory read-alouds, perhaps paired with Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin, by Lloyd Moss and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman (1995), and similar musical outings.

A magical tour of the natural wonders of the African continent tied with a celebration of the cultural foundations of African people who mined these sounds to create beautiful music . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: July 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-56656-048-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Crocodile/Interlink

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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Informative, empowering, and fun.

ROX'S SECRET CODE

Girl power abounds in this book about coding that introduces young readers to the world of programming while offering them hands-on activities via a companion app.

In this title that was first introduced as a customizable, personalized print-on-demand product, Rox has a superpower. Using code, she programs toy robots that can do things like make broccoli disappear—or mischief. When Dad tells Rox to clean her room, she quickly thinks up a bot that will do it for her, writing code that instructs her bot to use artificial intelligence to sort objects by color and type. Though Rox knows that there’s a high potential for her creation to rebel, the perks outweigh any potential adverse effects. Rox’s robot has her room neat and tidy in no time—and then the entire home. Chorebot’s AI allows it to keep learning, and it seems Chorebot can do no wrong until the robot decides to rearrange the entire city (both buildings and people) by type, style, and gender. Chorebot goes “out of his artificial mind!” Rox must now stop her creation…without the assistance of the internet. The artwork, styled in the tradition of popular superhero series, is peppy and colorful, and it depicts Rox as an adorable black girl donning a black bomber jacket and a pink tutu. A companion app (not available for review) allows readers to create a bot of their own.

Informative, empowering, and fun. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-57687-899-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: POW!

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

ROBOBABY

Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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