IMAGINATIVE INVENTIONS

This introduction to inventions delivered in cartoony spreads with clomping verse falls on its face. Harper’s text is so bogged down in rhyme and meter that it crosses into inaccuracy. In telling how Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt sent back his french fries to Chef George Crum, Harper says “One day there was a customer. / Let’s say his name was Rick. / He ordered some of George’s fries / then said, “These are too thick!” (So Crum sliced them paper-thin and invented the potato chip). Harper’s choice to rename Vanderbilt “Rick” is perplexing (rhymes with thick?), and hardly forgivable for the small print on the verso that states “though all the facts have been verified to the best of the author’s ability, it should be noted that creative storytelling and imagination were also used to tell these tales.” Most kids will recognize the verses as awkwardly patched together (“Some inventions solve a problem, / like glasses to help you see, / Then there are others just for fun, / like skates or the Frisbee.”) Too bad, as the goofy paintings will appeal to the age group that is also fascinated by inventions of things like potato chips and chewing gum. Trivial “facts” noted in the margins will also appeal (e.g., under doughnuts, that “the most popular doughnut with kids is the chocolate frosted”), though nothing in the text does much to really explain how the item was invented. An acknowledged list of sources in a single paragraph is also located on the verso, in minute type. This seems designed to inspire rather than explain. Sadly, it does neither. (Nonfiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-316-34725-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Megan Tingley/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the...

ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER

Rhymed couplets convey the story of a girl who likes to build things but is shy about it. Neither the poetry nor Rosie’s projects always work well.

Rosie picks up trash and oddments where she finds them, stashing them in her attic room to work on at night. Once, she made a hat for her favorite zookeeper uncle to keep pythons away, and he laughed so hard that she never made anything publicly again. But when her great-great-aunt Rose comes to visit and reminds Rosie of her own past building airplanes, she expresses her regret that she still has not had the chance to fly. Great-great-aunt Rose is visibly modeled on Rosie the Riveter, the iconic, red-bandanna–wearing poster woman from World War II. Rosie decides to build a flying machine and does so (it’s a heli-o-cheese-copter), but it fails. She’s just about to swear off making stuff forever when Aunt Rose congratulates her on her failure; now she can go on to try again. Rosie wears her hair swooped over one eye (just like great-great-aunt Rose), and other figures have exaggerated hairdos, tiny feet and elongated or greatly rounded bodies. The detritus of Rosie’s collections is fascinating, from broken dolls and stuffed animals to nails, tools, pencils, old lamps and possibly an erector set. And cheddar-cheese spray.

Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the right place. (historical note) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0845-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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Cool and stylish.

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ADA TWIST, SCIENTIST

Her intellectual curiosity is surpassed only by her passion for science. But what to do about her messy experiments?

Ada is speechless until she turns 3. But once she learns how to break out of her crib, there’s no stopping the kinky-haired, brown-skinned girl. “She tore through the house on a fact-finding spree.” When she does start speaking, her favorite words are “why,” “how,” and “when.” Her parents, a fashion-forward black couple who sport a variety of trendy outfits, are dumbfounded, and her older brother can only point at her in astonishment. She amazes her friends with her experiments. Ada examines all the clocks in the house, studies the solar system, and analyzes all the smells she encounters. Fortunately, her parents stop her from putting the cat in the dryer, sending her instead to the Thinking Chair. But while there, she covers the wall with formulae. What can her parents do? Instead of punishing her passion, they decide to try to understand it. “It’s all in the heart of a young scientist.” Though her plot is negligible—Ada’s parents arguably change more than she does—Beaty delightfully advocates for girls in science in her now-trademark crisply rhyming text. Roberts’ illustrations, in watercolor, pen, and ink, manage to be both smart and silly; the page compositions artfully evoke the tumult of Ada’s curiosity, filling white backgrounds with questions and clutter.

Cool and stylish. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2137-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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