Overall, a winning tribute to a scientific dreamer who was both a man of his times and, often, well ahead of them.




From the For Kids series

A searching portrait of the troubled, visionary Serbian-American inventor, with simple hands-on projects that touch on his life and interests.

O’Quinn describes in some detail the achievements for which Tesla is best remembered—from the Tesla coil and the practical generation of AC electricity to an advanced type of turbine—as well as his conflicts with Thomas Edison and Guglielmo Marconi. She promotes him as both a pacifist (notwithstanding his visions of particle-beam superweapons) and a conservationist whose experiments with wireless power transmission were spurred at least in part by environmental concerns. Without psychologizing she also notes his secretive nature, his tendencies to live beyond his means and to con investors, his now-disturbing eugenics theories, and his nomadic last years as a reclusive urban pigeon feeder. Period photos and patent drawings depict the hawk-nosed inventor, his work, his rivals, and his friends, and there are further resources aplenty at the end for curious or tantalized readers. Young experimenters hoping to fire up megavolt blasts of sparks or light bulbs held in their bare hands as Tesla did will be disappointed by the inserted projects, which begin with generating static electricity on a balloon and go on to demonstrations of magnetic fields and electromagnetism, writing an autobiography, and suchlike depressingly nonhazardous activities.

Overall, a winning tribute to a scientific dreamer who was both a man of his times and, often, well ahead of them. (index, timeline, endnotes) (Biography. 11-13)

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-912777-21-4

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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Far from comprehensive but visually arresting and, at times, provocative.


From the Information Graphics series

Stylized graphics rendered in saturated hues set this quick overview of body systems apart from the general run.

Arranged in tabbed and color-coded sections, the tour covers familiar ground but often from an unusual angle. The tally of human senses at the beginning, for instance, includes “proprioception” (physical multitasking), and ensuing chapters on the skeletal, circulatory and other systems are capped with a miscellany of body contents and products—from selected parasites and chemicals to farts and sweat. Likewise, descriptions of a dozen physical components of the “Brain Box” are followed by notes on more slippery mental functions like “Consciousness” and “Imagination.” The facts and observations gathered by Rogers are presented as labels or captions. They are interspersed on each spread with flat, eye-dazzling images designed by Grundy not with anatomical correctness in mind but to show processes or relationships at a glance. Thus, to show body parts most sensitive to touch, a silhouette figure sports an oversized hand and foot, plus Homer Simpson lips (though genitals are absent, which seems overcautious as an explicit section on reproduction follows a few pages later), and a stack of bathtubs illustrates the quantity of urine the average adult produces in an average lifetime (385 bathtubs’ worth). There is no backmatter.

Far from comprehensive but visually arresting and, at times, provocative. (Nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7123-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Big Picture/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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This glossy, colorful title in the “I Want To Be” series has visual appeal but poor organization and a fuzzy focus, which limits its usefulness. Each double-paged layout introduces a new topic with six to eight full-color photographs and a single column of text. Topics include types of environmentalists, eco-issues, waste renewal, education, High School of Environmental Studies, environmental vocabulary, history of environmentalism, famous environmentalists, and the return of the eagle. Often the photographs have little to do with the text or are marginal to the topic. For example, a typical layout called “Some Alternative Solutions” has five snapshots superimposed on a double-page photograph of a California wind farm. The text discusses ways to develop alternative forms of energy and “encourage environmentally friendly lifestyles.” Photos include “a healer who treats a patient with alternative therapy using sound and massage,” and “the Castle,” a house built of “used tires and aluminum cans.” Elsewhere, “Did You Know . . . ” shows a dramatic photo of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, but the text provides odd facts such as “ . . . that in Saudi Arabia there are solar-powered pay phones in the desert?” Some sections seem stuck in, a two-page piece on the effects of “El Niño” or 50 postage-stamp–sized photos of endangered species. The author concludes with places to write for more information and a list of photo credits. Pretty, but little here to warrant purchase. (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-15-201862-X

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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