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From the Maker Comics series

A (mostly) confidence-inspiring guide for young creators.

A fun how-to manual for aspiring roboticists.

This most recent installment in the Maker Comics series (tagline: “the ultimate DIY guide”) weaves a narrative around six robotics projects of varying difficulty. Toaster 2, a tomato-red appliance who proclaims itself the “most advanced robot ever created,” speaks directly to readers as they follow his lighthearted adventures navigating the perils around his family’s house. It creates an artbot to tackle pesky homework assignments, a scarebot to fend off “your” annoying brother, and three versions of a carbot to move the slumbering family pet, Katty the Destroyer. Each project has a detailed supply list with helpful suggestions of where to procure the more-obscure components and easy-to-follow, illustrated instructions. The robots range from simple designs composed of packing tape and magnets to more sophisticated schemes utilizing breadboards and coding. Venable intersperses engaging factoids throughout the guide on various topics, including the history of glue, a timeline of robotics, and an overview of the computer language Arduino. Hudson’s full-color illustrations are lively; together with Venable’s patient and thorough directions, they should encourage young readers to take the plunge into making their own bots. Also included is a step-by-step guide to starting a robotics club, helping to move any builder’s love from the page to a group. T2’s family is interracial: Dad and “your brother” present Black, and Mom and “your little sister” have Asian features. Both of the latter have offputtingly stylized eyes, and Mom’s hourglass figure and hairstyle skate close to stereotypes of hypersexualized Asian women—a shame, as her textual character development is terrific.

A (mostly) confidence-inspiring guide for young creators. (Graphic nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-15215-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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A rich and deeply felt slice of life.

Crafting fantasy worlds offers a budding middle school author relief and distraction from the real one in this graphic memoir debut.

Everyone in Tori’s life shows realistic mixes of vulnerability and self-knowledge while, equally realistically, seeming to be making it up as they go. At least, as she shuttles between angrily divorced parents—dad becoming steadily harder to reach, overstressed mom spectacularly incapable of reading her offspring—or drifts through one wearingly dull class after another, she has both vivacious bestie Taylor Lee and, promisingly, new classmate Nick as well as the (all-girl) heroic fantasy, complete with portals, crystal amulets, and evil enchantments, taking shape in her mind and on paper. The flow of school projects, sleepovers, heart-to-heart conversations with Taylor, and like incidents (including a scene involving Tori’s older brother, who is having a rough adolescence, that could be seen as domestic violence) turns to a tide of change as eighth grade winds down and brings unwelcome revelations about friends. At least the story remains as solace and, at the close, a sense that there are still chapters to come in both worlds. Working in a simple, expressive cartoon style reminiscent of Raina Telgemeier’s, Sharp captures facial and body language with easy naturalism. Most people in the spacious, tidily arranged panels are White; Taylor appears East Asian, and there is diversity in background characters.

A rich and deeply felt slice of life. (afterword, design notes) (Graphic memoir. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-53889-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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From the Giants of Science series

Hot on the heels of the well-received Leonardo da Vinci (2005) comes another agreeably chatty entry in the Giants of Science series. Here the pioneering physicist is revealed as undeniably brilliant, but also cantankerous, mean-spirited, paranoid and possibly depressive. Newton’s youth and annus mirabilis receive respectful treatment, the solitude enforced by family estrangement and then the plague seen as critical to the development of his thoughtful, methodical approach. His subsequent squabbles with the rest of the scientific community—he refrained from publishing one treatise until his rival was dead—further support the image of Newton as a scientific lone wolf. Krull’s colloquial treatment sketches Newton’s advances in clearly understandable terms without bogging the text down with detailed explanations. A final chapter on “His Impact” places him squarely in the pantheon of great thinkers, arguing that both his insistence on the scientific method and his theories of physics have informed all subsequent scientific thought. A bibliography, web site and index round out the volume; the lack of detail on the use of sources is regrettable in an otherwise solid offering for middle-grade students. (Biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-670-05921-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2006

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