THE GRAVITY TREE

THE TRUE STORY OF A TREE THAT INSPIRED THE WORLD

A sweet windfall of history and inspiration.

All about the apple that (contrary to legend) did not hit Isaac Newton’s head in the mid-17th century—and what became of the tree from which it fell.

The apple may have missed, but the insight into why it fell down instead of, say, up struck the young genius hard enough to revolutionize our understanding of how the physical universe works…and to turn the tree into a destination for generations of pilgrims. As Redding relates with alliterative vim, the tree survived a lightning strike around 1820, though pieces of it were carved into a chair—“a perfect perch for pondering”—and, much later, carried onto the International Space Station. It still produces fruit to this day, sending offspring to grow around the world. In the wake of illustrating Nancy I. Sanders’ The Very Oldest Pear Tree (2020), Imamura portrays the tree from first tiny seed to gnarled snag, inspiring visitors from Albert Einstein in 1930 to Stephen Hawking in his wheelchair in 1987. As the centuries pass, racially diverse background characters begin to diversify the mostly White cast…and on the final page, a brown-skinned child stands in for readers with, the author writes, a similar “potential to change the world.” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A sweet windfall of history and inspiration. (biographical notes, bibliography, timeline) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-296736-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

OUR HOUSE IS ROUND

A KID'S BOOK ABOUT WHY PROTECTING OUR EARTH MATTERS

The result of this Grammy-nominated harpist’s effort to simplify a complex scientific subject is a medley of environmental...

Pollution, energy use, and simply throwing things away have created a worldwide mess that kids can help clean up with an eight-step action plan.

This well-meant offering introduces the idea of the interconnectedness of human activities and the state of our world. We’re all affected by pollution. Our need for energy results in a variety of current problems: unclean air, melting ice caps, rising sea levels and extreme weather patterns. We should use less. Trash doesn’t vanish; it must be burned or dumped. We should also recycle. This helps save trees, which “eat up pollution.” Colorful, unsophisticated cartoons show a bunny magician who cannot make trash disappear and a diverse array of young people who can. The author’s strong message is undercut by end matter that twice states that “many scientists” consider climate change to be caused by global warming. A National Academy of Sciences survey in 2010 showed an overwhelming consensus: 97 percent. Inspired by her concern for the environment, Kondonassis wrote this when she was unable to find an appropriate  book that would explain to her young daughter why she should care. Too bad she missed Kim Michelle Toft’s The World That We Want (2005) or Todd Parr’s The Earth Book (2010).

The result of this Grammy-nominated harpist’s effort to simplify a complex scientific subject is a medley of environmental tweets. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-61608-588-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2012

HOW TO BUILD A CAR

From the Technical Tales series

Young makers will find the Scrap Pack’s enthusiasm infectious, but even as broad overviews, these offer at best incomplete...

A mouse, a bird, and a junkyard frog assemble a car from the ground up—cluing in readers who may be a bit vague on what’s beneath all those hoods…or at least what used to be.

Enlisting his green buddy Hank to supply the parts and feathered Phoebe to draw up the plans, Eli, “king of crazy ideas,” sees his latest project grow from a frame and some miscellaneous loose parts to a nifty blue convertible with a classic 1950s look. At each stage, Sodomka supplies clearly drawn angled or cutaway views with dozens of major components labeled, from “steering knuckle bracket” to “tie rod” and “ball joint.” The gas tank is labeled but seems to be missing, though, and readers who want to know what a “differential” actually does or the purpose of the “indicator switch” are out of luck. Lacey’s claim that an engine “is like the brain of the car” doesn’t bear close examination, either. Moreover, the finished auto isn’t much like most modern cars, as it has no electronic elements, for instance, and is powered by a three-cylinder engine (misleadingly billed as “regular”) quaintly fed by a long-obsolescent carburetor. With an auto under their belts (and with similar oversimplification), Eli’s “Scrap Pack” goes on to an even more ambitious enterprise in How to Build a Plane. In both volumes, closer looks at selected systems or related topics follow the storyline’s happy conclusion, and each broad trial-and-error step in the construction is recapped at the end.

Young makers will find the Scrap Pack’s enthusiasm infectious, but even as broad overviews, these offer at best incomplete pictures. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63322-041-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Quarto

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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