Broad but shallow, best considered as an appetizer for meatier surveys.

THE STORY OF INVENTIONS

The history of technology gets a quick once-over, highlighting 15 milestones.

Skipping blithely past the inventions of stone tools and agriculture, the authors begin with the wheel, (arbitrarily dated to 3,500 B.C.E.), close with nuclear weapons and the internet (“Today”), and in between tick off paper, gunpowder, vaccines, telephones, plastic bottles, and like more or less ubiquitous props for modern civilization. Each gets a spread, usually with a left-to-right progression of approximate time and place of invention followed by early uses, later refinements, and finally modern status. Husband’s informally drawn cartoon scenes offer views of early to late types of technology, a newly electrified city thickly strung with power lines, sea life unhappily wrestling with nets and plastic bags in a garbage-strewn ocean, and world maps festooned with people of diverse dress and color using phones and computers to communicate. The spare, big-picture narrative mentions no inventors by name (“While roads covered the land, only birds crossed the skies. Until one windy day in America when two brothers took off”), but the authors do sound repeated cautionary notes about the environmental effects of pollution, and like the crowd of peace protesters in the nuke entry’s foreground (which at least looks larger than the mushroom cloud in the background), human figures throughout are racially diverse, if not always individualized.

Broad but shallow, best considered as an appetizer for meatier surveys. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4537-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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Together with its companions, too rushed to be first introductions but suitable as second ones.

MARIE CURIE AND RADIOACTIVITY

From the Graphic Science Biographies series

A highlights reel of the great scientist’s life and achievements, from clandestine early schooling to the founding of Warsaw’s Radium Institute.

In big sequential panels Bayarri dashes through Curie’s career, barely pausing at significant moments (“Mother! A letter just arrived. It’s from Sweden,” announces young Irène. “Oh, really?…They’re awarding me another Nobel!”) in a seeming rush to cover her youth, family life, discoveries, World War I work, and later achievements (with only a closing timeline noting her death, of “aplastic anemia”). Button-eyed but recognizable figures in the panels pour out lecture-ish dialogue. This is well stocked with names and scientific terms but offered with little or no context—characteristics shared by co-published profiles on Albert Einstein and the Theory of Relativity (“You and your thought experiments, Albert!” “We love it! The other day, Schrödinger thought up one about a cat”), Charles Darwin and the Theory of Evolution, and Isaac Newton and the Laws of Motion. Dark-skinned Tierra del Fuegans make appearances in Darwin, prompting the young naturalist to express his strong anti-slavery views; otherwise the cast is white throughout the series. Engagingly informal as the art and general tone of the narratives are, the books will likely find younger readers struggling to keep up, but kids already exposed to the names and at least some of the concepts will find these imports, translated from the Basque, helpful if, at times, dry overviews.

Together with its companions, too rushed to be first introductions but suitable as second ones. (glossary, index, resource list) (Graphic biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-7821-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Graphic Universe

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Just the ticket for mechanically curious kids.

MARVELOUS MACHINES

A MAGIC LENS BOOK

A detachable acetate eyepiece lets budding engineers peek into buildings, the inner workings of vehicles from bicycles to submarines, and even a human torso.

Peering through the colored spyglass embedded in the front cover at Lozano’s cartoon scenes makes large areas of red stippling or crosshatching disappear, revealing electrical wiring and other infrastructure in or under buildings, robots at work on an assembly line, the insides of a jet and a container ship, and other hidden areas or facilities. Though younger viewers will get general pictures of how, for instance, internal-combustion (but not electric) cars are propelled, what MRIs and ultrasound scans reveal, and the main steps in printing and binding books, overall the visual detail is radically simplified in Lozano’s assemblages of cartoon images. Likewise, the sheaves of descriptive captions are light on specifics—noting that airplane wings create lift but neglecting to explain just how, say, or why maglev train magnets are supercooled. Still, Wilsher introduces simple machines at the outset (five of the six, anyway), and the ensuing selection of complex ones is current enough to include a spy drone and Space X’s Falcon 9 rocket. Along with displaying a range of skin tones, the human cast of machine users visible in most scenes includes an astronomer wearing a hijab. All in all, it’s a revealing, if sketchy, roll toward David Macaulay’s The Way Things Work Now (2016).

Just the ticket for mechanically curious kids. (Informational novelty. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-912920-20-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: What on Earth Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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