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Overwatch young adult novel series expands with Deadlock Rebels

Scholastic imprint Away From Keyboard (AFK) has released the second installment in Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch novel series for young adults. The new book is titled Deadlock Rebels and it revolves around the player-favorite character Jesse McCree, as well as the novel’s protagonist Elizabeth Caledonia Ashe and B.O.B., her omnic butler.

Deadlock Rebels is set in the American Southwest where main character Elizabeth Ashe repeatedly gets herself into trouble. After being arrested ahead of her high school graduation, Ashe loses her family’s support and is cut off from her share of the future inheritance.

Not content with this, Ashe plans to steal the wealth from her old-money family. The character teams up with young Jesse McCree who sets out with Ashe and B.O.B in a variety of old west-style heists. The novel comes with a lesson about choosing your own family, not to mention building upon the vast Overwatch universe established by the hit video game.

This is the second title in the Overwatch young adult novel series, with this book focusing on the origins of the Deadlock Gang. The book is available now in paperback for $10 and on Kindle for $7. The book follows novel #1 in the series titled The Hero of Numbani.

The name refers to the futuristic African city Numbani where protagonist Efi Oladele develops Orisa to help fight against Doomfist. Both titles are rated as appropriate for readers ages 12 and older. Likewise, both books have a print length of 304 pages. The book is available from Amazon and other retailers now.

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Tech News

Netflix Kids profile redesign adds show characters for young users

Netflix has kids’ profiles that enable parents to restrict young children to age-appropriate content. This is a great tool, but one limited by the child’s ability to read and find what they want. Here to address that is a Kids profile redesign that adds a new row featuring show characters and the content that features them rather than written titles.

Kids operate using a visual language, one dominated by bold colors and simple designs. That should make Netflix’s redesigned Kids profiles more appealing to young users who will see a new ‘Favorites’ row that features a total of five show characters above their movies and TV shows.

According to Variety, Netflix is rolling out the redesigned profile to users around the globe, though it may take a while before you see it in your own account. The change will appear on the Netflix app for connected TVs; it’s unclear whether the company plans to add the change on other platforms.

The new design follows a test Netflix conducted, according to the report, which revealed that kids embraced the visual nature of the new row. The content presented in the row will be personalized to the user, presenting the characters for the movies and shows that the child watches most often — including both Netflix Originals and third-party content.

The row won’t be something that parents can control, but nothing about the parental controls will change with this redesign. Whether the new character-based visual row has encouraged kids to watch more content remains unknown.

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Tech News

Google Play Books can now read stories to young kids

Google has added new features to its Play Books platform, ones aimed at young kids who may not yet know how to read or who may have limited reading skills. In addition to a new read-and-listen feature, the app also now offers a kid-friendly dictionary to help young readers learn new vocabulary while reading stories.

Google Play Books is a platform that provides users with access to ebooks and audiobooks, including ones for kids. When it comes to the youngest readers, they may not yet have the reading skills necessary to read a book, but also not be interested in audiobooks due to the lack of illustrations.

In a new update, Google has announced that Google Play Books can now read stories to kids; the app can be set to automatically turn the pages or allow the reader to manually flip to new pages. The tool shows the text on the page and highlights each word as it is read, helping readers learn to read themselves.

In addition to the read-and-listen feature, the update also adds a kid-friendly dictionary that shows the definition for words, as well as reading the definition. According to Google, this dictionary has child-appropriate definitions for thousands of words.

Most of the books for readers ages 0 to 8 available on the Google Play Books platform support these new features. Users can download free samples of the titles to get a preview of the content and features before purchase. Select free titles also offer these features, including Ara the Star Engineer, Family Forever, and We’re Amazing, 1-2-3.

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Tech News

NASA’s TESS found 3 exoplanets orbiting a young sun-like star

Roughly 400 light years from Earth, a young star named TOI 451 travels within a river of stars. An international team of astronomers has now found three previously unknown exoplanets orbiting that star.

The Pisces-Eridanus stream of stars was only recently discovered — at the end of 2018 — despite stretching across one-third of the sky. Stars within this stream average only around 3% of the age of our own solar system.

“This system checks a lot of boxes for astronomers. It’s only 120 million years old and just 400 light-years away, allowing detailed observations of this young planetary system. And because there are three planets between two and four times Earth’s size, they make especially promising targets for testing theories about how planetary atmospheres evolve,” explains Dr. Elisabeth Newton of Dartmouth College.