A lively account of a watershed event.

A testament to the 1969 Cuyahoga River fire, which helped to spark Earth Day and the environmental movement.

The fire itself was quickly doused and only a minor news story (the Cuyahoga, located in Cleveland, Ohio, having already, the author notes, caught fire 13 times since 1886), but thanks in part to crusading Detroit Mayor Carl Stokes—and, really, the times—it proved a tipping point in the history of environmental legislation and activism. In occasionally imprecise but vivid prose punctuated by incendiary KABOOMs, Wittenstein explains how the river became a “toxic soup of wood, metal, chemicals, oil, and even animal body parts” ripe for combustion, as were rivers in other industrial cities (“They were KABOOMING out of control!”). “People,” he writes, “finally opened their ears and eyes. They were tired of holding their noses.” But despite ending the main narrative with an optimistic observation that the river is clean enough today for fish to survive in it, he closes with an author’s note that offers a strong reminder that pollution and climate change remain deadly challenges: “This is not a movie. This is the world we have created.” Between views of prehistoric mastodons splashing in the unspoiled river and modern picnickers catching and cooking a fish (which is actually legal now), Hartland depicts racially diverse groups of firefighters, officials, marchers with signs in various languages, tourists in boats, and city dwellers in increasingly cleaned-up settings. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A lively account of a watershed event. (timeline, source notes, resource and organization lists, photo, map) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 28, 2023

ISBN: 9781534480834

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023



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


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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