NOTHING STOPPED SOPHIE

THE STORY OF UNSHAKABLE MATHEMATICIAN SOPHIE GERMAIN

As an entree into the world of mathematics, this portrait of a quiet heroine is elegant, striking, and sure to inspire.

A girl mathematician? Impossible!

“Telling Sophie not to think about math was like telling a bird not to soar,” but that’s exactly what people did. Growing up a middle-class, white female in late-18th-century France, Sophie Germain was discouraged from studying, especially from studying math, a discipline reserved for educated men. Markers, gouache, and elements of collage energetically power illustrations that are often filled with numbers, expanding on the appealing text and emphasizing the concept of vibration that Sophie later illuminated. She sneaked out of bed to learn the basics, corresponded anonymously with experts, and struggled for fair treatment. Becoming a mathematician was challenging, but as the story’s repeating, titular refrain states, “nothing stopped Sophie”—not the French Revolution, not the sexism of the time, and not the mathematical complexities she worked through to discover the formula that made her the eventual winner of a prestigious academic contest. Resilience is the focus here, as well as the groundbreaking nature of her work; Sophie with her quiet focus and staunch dedication was able to make a difference by predicting patterns of vibration, information later used in architecture, as well as paving the way for other women in the field and, by implication, girls learning about math today.

As an entree into the world of mathematics, this portrait of a quiet heroine is elegant, striking, and sure to inspire. (biographical and historical notes, bibliography, author’s note, illustrator’s note) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-27820-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

MORE THAN PEACH

An inspirational look at one girl’s quest to make sure that all skin tones are visible and available in the classroom.

A Black girl’s simple observation propels her into activism.

Woodard, who launched the More Than Peach Project—which arranges for classrooms and children in need to receive kits that include art supplies and boxes of multicultural crayons (crayons in a variety of skin tones)—relates the incident that sparked her journey. As the book begins, she is dropped off at school and notices that her family’s skin tone differs from that of her classmates. While it is clear that she is one of a few children of color at school, that difference isn’t really felt until her friends start asking for the “skin-color” crayon when they mean peach. She’s bothered that no one else seems to notice that skin comes in many colors, so she devises a unique way of bringing everyone’s attention to that fact. With support from her family and her school, she encourages her fellow classmates to rethink their language and starts an initiative to ensure that everyone’s skin tone is represented in each crayon box. Appealing, realistic artwork depicts Woodard’s experiences, while endpapers feature More Than Peach crayon boxes and childlike illustrations of kids of different ethnicities doing various activities. The story is stirring and will motivate budding activists. (This book was reviewed digitally; the review has been updated for factual accuracy.)

An inspirational look at one girl’s quest to make sure that all skin tones are visible and available in the classroom. (note from Woodard, information on Woodard’s journey into activism, instructions on starting a drive) (Picture-book biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-80927-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

BASKETBALL DREAMS

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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