Like Notes to a Science Fiction loiter (925, J-307) this is a spinoff from Bova's duties as editor of Analog magazine, and here even the endpapers are reproductions of Analog covers. Boys traces the evolution of organized human curiosity (i.e. science) all the way up from the prosimians and concludes by defending that beleaguered "minority group" the scientist. And he climbs up on his soapbox to make some hifalutin claims for sci fi as the literature of the future. . . isn't it finally being taught in the schools instead of Silas Marner and The Mill on the Floss (of the latter, "no one has read such books outside of an English class assignment since approximately 1919"). Along the way, he fills us in on the growth of American sci fi from Hugo Gernsback to John Campbell, explains the rules of The Game which separates hard core science fiction from mere fantasy, and tells some good stories of how prescient writers beat the scientists to big discoveries. Of course sci fi has been unfairly scorned and it does inspire that "sense of wonder" he talks about. But is it necessary to claim that the sci fi mags attract readers from "among the topmost ranks of intelligence" and turns them into "worshipers of science and knowledge"? The gentleman protests too much. . . and too often.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0201092069

Page Count: 140

Publisher: Addison-Wesley

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2012

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A lovely encouragement to young writers to persist.


This follow-up to How To Read a Story (2005) shows a child going through the steps of creating a story, from choosing an idea through sharing with friends.

A young black child lies in a grassy field writing in a journal, working on “Step 1 / Search for an Idea— / a shiny one.” During a walk to the library, various ideas float in colorful thought bubbles, with exclamation points: “playing soccer! / dogs!” Inside the library, less-distinct ideas, expressed as shapes and pictures, with question marks, float about as the writer collects ideas to choose from. The young writer must then choose a setting, a main character, and a problem for that protagonist. Plotting, writing with detail, and revising are described in child-friendly terms and shown visually, in the form of lists and notes on faux pieces of paper. Finally, the writer sits in the same field, in a new season, sharing the story with friends. The illustrations feature the child’s writing and drawing as well as images of imagined events from the book in progress bursting off the page. The child’s main character is an adventurous mermaid who looks just like the child, complete with afro-puff pigtails, representing an affirming message about writing oneself into the world. The child’s family, depicted as black, moves in the background of the setting, which is also populated by a multiracial cast.

A lovely encouragement to young writers to persist. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-5666-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A festive invitation to creative liberation.


A pleasingly tactile exploration of the possibilities inherent in mistakes.

"A torn piece of paper... / is just the beginning!" Spills, folded paper, drips of paint, smudges and smears—they "all can make magic appear." An increasingly complex series of scenarios celebrates random accidents, encouraging artistic experimentation rather than discouragement. The folded-over paper can be a penguin's head; a torn piece of newsprint can turn into a smiling dog with a little application of paint; a hot-chocolate stain can become a bog for a frog. Thanks to a telescoping pop-up, a hole is filled with nearly limitless possibilities. The interactive elements work beautifully with the photo-collaged "mistakes," never overwhelming the intent with showiness. Saltzberg's trademark cartoon animals provide a sweetly childlike counterpoint to the artful scribbles and smears of gloppy paint.

A festive invitation to creative liberation. (Pop-up. 4-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7611-5728-1

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2010

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