RACHEL

THE STORY OF RACHEL CARSON

Ehrlich’s biography of the noted environmentalist covers much ground, from her early years in Pennsylvania, to research at Woods Hole Marine Laboratory, to Maine and her environmental writings. Carson’s first teacher and greatest friend was her mother, who took walks, studied nature, and read with her. At the Pennsylvania College for Women, Carson found a love of biology to match her passion for writing, and it became her excellent writing that brought the natural world to readers. In The Sea Around Us (1951), readers roamed the beautiful and mysterious ocean worlds. Silent Spring (1962) opened eyes to the poisoning of the planet and launched the modern environmental movement. It’s a lot to cover in a small volume, and young readers may find the text sketchy and disjointed. In several spots, personal feelings or thoughts are attributed to Carson but are undocumented: “her thoughts turning like waves”; “she felt helpless, as lost as the firefly”; “Rachel, who loved the world so much, was frightened and angry.” Such problems mar this lovely tribute to an important writer unknown to the intended young audience. Minor’s watercolor and gouache paintings, with their phosphorescent colors, outshine the text in portraying the beauties of the world—woods, mountains, and coastlines from Cape Cod to Maine. Young readers will love the illustrations and enjoy the true story of a woman of passion and courage. Maybe Carson’s sense of wonder will inspire future environmentalists. (bibliography, epilogue) (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-15-216227-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Silver Whistle/Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2003

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JOHNNY APPLESEED

Though she never says outright that he was a real person, Kurtz introduces newly emergent readers to the historical John Chapman, walking along the Ohio, planting apple seeds, and bartering seedlings to settlers for food and clothing. Haverfield supplies the legendary portions of his tale, with views of a smiling, stylishly ragged, clean-shaven young man, pot on head, wildlife on shoulder or trailing along behind. Kurtz caps her short, rhythmic text with an invitation to “Clap your hands for Johnny Chapman. / Clap your hands for Johnny Appleseed!” An appealing way to open discussions of our country’s historical or legendary past. (Easy reader/nonfiction. 5-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-689-85958-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2004

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Outstanding—a breath of fresh air, just like Rocket herself.

ROCKET SAYS LOOK UP!

Rocket is on a mission…to get her angst-y teen brother to put down his cellphone and look up.

An aspiring astronaut, Rocket makes it a point to set up her telescope and gaze at the stars every night before bedtime. Inspired by Mae Jemison, Rocket, a supercute black girl with braids and a coiffed Afro, hopes to be “the greatest astronaut, star catcher, and space walker who has ever lived.” As the night of the Phoenix meteor shower approaches, Rocket makes fliers inviting everyone in her neighborhood to see the cosmic event at the park. Over the course of her preparations, she shares information about space-shuttle missions, what causes a meteor shower, and when is the best time to see one. Jamal, Rocket’s insufferable older brother, who sports a high-top fade and a hoodie, is completely engrossed in his phone, even as just about everybody in the neighborhood turns up. The bright, digital illustrations are an exuberant celebration of both space and black culture that will simultaneously inspire and ground readers. That the main characters are unapologetically black is made plain through myriad details. Rocket’s mother is depicted cornrowing her daughter’s hair with a wide-toothed comb and hair oil. Gap-toothed Rocket, meanwhile, makes her enthusiasm for space clear in the orange jumpsuit both she and her cat wear—and even Jamal’s excited by the end.

Outstanding—a breath of fresh air, just like Rocket herself. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9442-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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