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

BUILD A ROBOT!

From the Maker Comics series

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. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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A rich and deeply felt slice of life.

JUST PRETEND

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 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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An interesting, engaging collection of snapshot profiles that will encourage readers to explore further and perhaps pursue...

TRAILBLAZERS

33 WOMEN IN SCIENCE WHO CHANGED THE WORLD

With STEM now the hot trend in education and concerted efforts to encourage girls to explore scientific fields, this collective biography is most timely.

Swaby offers 33 brief profiles of some of the world’s most influential women in science, organized in loose groupings: technology and innovation, earth and stars, health and medicine, and biology. Some of the figures, such as Mary Anning, Rachel Carson, Florence Nightingale, Sally Ride, and Marie Tharp, have been written about for young readers, but most have not. Among the lesser known are Stephanie Kwolek, the American chemist who invented Kevlar; Yvonne Brill, the Canadian engineer who invented a thruster used in satellites; Elsie Widdowson, the British nutritionist who demonstrated how important fluid and salt are for the body to properly function; and Italian neuroembryologist Rita Levi-Montalcini, who made breakthrough discoveries in nerve-cell growth. Swaby emphasizes that most of these scientists had to overcome great obstacles before achieving their successes and receiving recognition due to gender-based discrimination. She also notes that people are not born brilliant scientists and that it’s through repeated observation, experimentation, and testing of ideas that important discoveries are made.

An interesting, engaging collection of snapshot profiles that will encourage readers to explore further and perhaps pursue their own scientific curiosities. (source notes, bibliography) (Collective biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-55396-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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