An absorbing account of a real-life adventure in a series that showcases historical accomplishments of women.

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A RACE AROUND THE WORLD

THE TRUE STORY OF NELLIE BLY & ELIZABETH BISLAND

Rose explores the true story of a race between two accomplished 19th-century women in this children’s book featuring illustrations by Bye.

In 1889, famed reporter Nellie Bly believed that she could circle the globe faster than anyone had before—in less than the 80 days of Jules Verne’s fictional hero. She pitched the story to her boss at the New York World, who, after initial protests, approved her journey. As Bly left New York City, heading east, Cosmopolitan writer Elizabeth Bisland was sent off to the west, with little notice, to race Bly back to the city. In this entry in the She Makes History series, Rose reports the travels of both women in tandem, showing the eastward movement of Bly and the westward travel of Bisland as the reporters encountered successes and setbacks. Rose’s text and Bye’s cartoon-style color images, which accurately and vividly depict the era in detail, allow young readers to get a deeper sense of what living in the late 1800s was like and how travel, by various methods, was very different than it is in the modern day. The extensive text never overwhelms the illustrations, though, and Bye depicts the players in action-oriented poses that propel the story forward. One particularly elegant two-page spread shows the two travelers’ ships literally passing in the night. Rose captures both the wonder of the world as the women experience it as well as the dangers and miseries of their journeys. Her straightforward vocabulary and accessible narration will let young readers immerse themselves in the history. Endnotes offer greater context for the role of women reporters of the era, highlighting the main characters’ tremendous achievements.

An absorbing account of a real-life adventure in a series that showcases historical accomplishments of women. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-0010-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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An inspiring book about an influential scientist and the allure of the stars. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

ALWAYS LOOKING UP

NANCY GRACE ROMAN, ASTRONOMER

This biography for children tells the story of the astronomer who spearheaded the Hubble Space Telescope project.

When Nancy Grace Roman (1925–2018) was young, she loved the night sky, which was always the same, no matter where her father’s job took the family. She formed a school astronomy club and learned more about constellations, meteors, and planets. In high school, she “asked questions her physics teacher could not answer” and took an extra algebra class. Roman’s college professors tried to discourage her, as a woman, from studying science and math, but she excelled in her studies, continuing on to graduate school and becoming an astronomer. She observed stars, worked with radio telescopes, and gave astronomy lectures. Roman then joined the newly created NASA in 1959 as the first chief of astronomy, eventually becoming director of the Astronomical Data Center. Realizing that astronomers needed a telescope in space that wouldn’t be blocked by our atmosphere, Roman led a team of scientists on the Hubble Space Telescope project, testifying successfully before Congress on the need for funding. The Hubble, when finally built (and repaired in space), gave crystal-clear images of astronomical objects, earning Roman a nickname: the “Mother of Hubble.” An author’s note about Roman and a timeline of her life are included. Gehl (Baby Botanist, 2019, etc.), a prolific writer for children, explains the facts of Roman’s life in a compelling way. Information from the timeline, such as when Roman was born and what degrees she earned, could have been better integrated into the story for more context. However, Gehl clearly conveys her subject’s childhood excitement about the cosmos and her determination, “as fiery as a supernova,” to learn more and fire up others. The story of the Hubble itself is also well told, with marvelous descriptions accompanied by illustrations: “comets hurtling into Jupiter; dust storms on Mars; nebulae shaped like a butterfly, a crab, a tarantula.” The very appealing, nicely detailed images by Pigott (El Tucán y La Tortuga, 2019, etc.) and debut illustrator Oxton capture Roman’s character, as well as the magic of the night sky.

An inspiring book about an influential scientist and the allure of the stars. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-0296-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2019

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A perfunctory effort.

AGE OF THE DINOSAURS

From the Curious Kids series

A select set of pop-up prehistoric portraits, with bite-sized facts for dedicated dinophiles.

In contrast to previous Curious Kids outing Explore the Meadow (2020), this gallery has a slapdash air. Including a less-than-melodramatic opening tableau that features a sauropod who looks almost comically resigned to becoming a theropod’s next meal, five of the eight central pop-ups are just static portraits that hover over stylized prehistoric backdrops. Of the other three, one offers a face-on T. rex with a comically tiny (but toothy) mouth and another, a giant meteorite that actually rises as the spread opens. The fact bits scattered at random are occasionally mind-blowing (“Stegosaurus and Tyrannosaurus lived further apart in time than Tyrannosaurus and humankind”) but more often run to obvious truisms, misstatements (no, Diplodocus was not conclusively the longest dino), or outright non sequiturs: “Some were FEROCIOUS! Others were TALL.” Some of the real-world comparisons do not provide sufficient context: “Even a pig would have been able to run past [Ankylosaurus] with ease”—but how fast does a pig run? Moreover, all but one of the dinosaurs posing on the first and last spreads go unidentified, and Marx also manages to leave birds out of his closing list of dinosaur-age survivals. It’s a shame given the child-attracting combination of topic and format. Companion title Stars and Space publishes simultaneously.

A perfunctory effort. (Informational pop-up book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68010-653-4

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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