The right stuff for children with the stars in their eyes.

THE STARS BECKONED

EDWARD WHITE'S AMAZING WALK IN SPACE

A look back at a child who loved to look at the stars and grew up to become the first U.S. astronaut to walk in space.

In Wellins’ rhymed narrative, and also Dawson’s views of a wide-eyed child and then man looking up and out in nearly every scene, biographical and technological details take a back seat to expressions of a bright and enduring sense of wonder—so that whether it was his mom or, later, Houston telling White it was time to cut the stargazing and come back inside, he always went “so slow…so slow.” The author ends by underscoring his attachment to family (“Moons and stars / are lovely places, / but not as nice as / children’s faces”), reserving mention of his tragic death in the Apollo 1 fire for the closing historical note. The astronaut and his family are White in the illustrations, but most of the figures placed around him as an adult at NASA and elsewhere are people of color. Readers will have to look elsewhere, in more-developed profiles of the Apollo missions or the late Kathleen Krull’s Fly High, John Glenn, illustrated by Maurizio A.C. Quarello (2020), for instance, for rounded pictures of the early space program’s heroes; White himself comes off here as a cardboard figure, but the main story is really the heights to which his profound fascination with the night sky led. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 85% of actual size.)

The right stuff for children with the stars in their eyes.   (timeline, photographs) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11804-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness.

THE BRAIN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

An introduction to the lead guitar and vocalist for the Brainiacs—the human brain.

The brain (familiar to readers of Seluk’s “The Awkward Yeti” webcomic, which spun off the adult title Heart and Brain, 2015) looks like a dodgeball with arms and legs—pinkish, sturdy, and roundish, with a pair of square-framed spectacles bestowing an air of importance and hipness. Other organs of the body—tongue, lungs, stomach, muscle, and heart—are featured as members of the brain’s rock band (the verso of the dust jacket is a poster of the band). Seluk’s breezy, conversational prose and brightly colored, boldly outlined cartoon illustrations deliver basic information. The brain’s role in keeping the heart beating and other automatic functions, directing body movements, interpreting sights and sounds, remembering smells and tastes, and regulating sleep and hunger are all explained, prose augmented by dialogue balloons and information sidebars. Seluk points out, importantly, that feelings originate in the brain: “You can control how you react…but your feelings happen no matter what.” The parodied album covers on the front endpapers (including the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Green Day, Run DMC, Queen, Nirvana) will amuse parents—or at least grandparents—and the rear endpapers serve up band members’ clever social media and texting screenshots. Backmatter includes a glossary and further brain trivia but no resources or bibliography.

A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-16700-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Blandly laudatory.

I AM WALT DISNEY

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

The iconic animator introduces young readers to each “happy place” in his life.

The tally begins with his childhood home in Marceline, Missouri, and climaxes with Disneyland (carefully designed to be “the happiest place on Earth”), but the account really centers on finding his true happy place, not on a map but in drawing. In sketching out his early flubs and later rocket to the top, the fictive narrator gives Ub Iwerks and other Disney studio workers a nod (leaving his labor disputes with them unmentioned) and squeezes in quick references to his animated films, from Steamboat Willie to Winnie the Pooh (sans Fantasia and Song of the South). Eliopoulos incorporates stills from the films into his cartoon illustrations and, characteristically for this series, depicts Disney as a caricature, trademark mustache in place on outsized head even in childhood years and child sized even as an adult. Human figures default to white, with occasional people of color in crowd scenes and (ahistorically) in the animation studio. One unidentified animator builds up the role-modeling with an observation that Walt and Mickey were really the same (“Both fearless; both resourceful”). An assertion toward the end—“So when do you stop being a child? When you stop dreaming”—muddles the overall follow-your-bliss message. A timeline to the EPCOT Center’s 1982 opening offers photos of the man with select associates, rodent and otherwise. An additional series entry, I Am Marie Curie, publishes simultaneously, featuring a gowned, toddler-sized version of the groundbreaking physicist accepting her two Nobel prizes.

Blandly laudatory. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2875-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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