An engaging overview of Lewis Latimer’s life and work.

LEWIS LATIMER

ENGINEERING WIZARD

From the VIP series

Lewis Latimer, born free to formerly enslaved parents, served as a soldier in the Civil War and taught himself the skills to become a draftsman, polyglot, inventor, author, and poet.

Though he left school at the age of 10 to help his father support their family, Latimer became an important figure in Alexander Graham Bell’s attempt to secure a patent for the telephone and the invention of the filament in incandescent light bulbs that made them safer to use. Later, he worked in Thomas Edison’s company, and after retiring, he turned to civil rights work. Though brief, this biography is both engaging and well researched. Patrick draws on Latimer’s private papers as well as secondary sources, crafting a narrative that entwines his professional accomplishments with personal milestones. She punctuates it with historical notes, introductions to other inventors both African American and White, and general information that helps to contextualize the subject matter, such as an explanation of patents and another of the Industrial Revolution. Duncan’s black-and-white illustrations make it approachable for young readers transitioning to nonfiction chapter books, and they make it clear that Latimer achieved what he did in spaces dominated by White men. The backmatter includes a list of Latimer’s patents, a timeline, brief introductions to four contemporary African American inventors, and a bibliography. Series companion Dr. Mae Jemison: Brave Rocketeer, by Heather Alexander and illustrated by Jennifer Bricking, publishes simultaneously; together they launch the VIP biography series.

An engaging overview of Lewis Latimer’s life and work.   (Biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-297807-3

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both.

FLASH FACTS

Flash, Batman, and other characters from the DC Comics universe tackle supervillains and STEM-related topics and sometimes, both.

Credited to 20 writers and illustrators in various combinations, the 10 episodes invite readers to tag along as Mera and Aquaman visit oceanic zones from epipelagic to hadalpelagic; Supergirl helps a young scholar pick a science-project topic by taking her on a tour of the solar system; and Swamp Thing lends Poison Ivy a hand to describe how DNA works (later joining Swamp Kid to scuttle a climate-altering scheme by Arcane). In other episodes, various costumed creations explain the ins and outs of diverse large- and small-scale phenomena, including electricity, atomic structure, forensic techniques, 3-D printing, and the lactate threshold. Presumably on the supposition that the characters will be more familiar to readers than the science, the minilectures tend to start from simple basics, but the figures are mostly both redrawn to look more childlike than in the comics and identified only in passing. Drawing styles and page designs differ from chapter to chapter but not enough to interrupt overall visual unity and flow—and the cast is sufficiently diverse to include roles for superheroes (and villains) of color like Cyborg, Kid Flash, and the Latina Green Lantern, Jessica Cruz. Appended lists of websites and science-based YouTube channels, plus instructions for homespun activities related to each episode, point inspired STEM-winders toward further discoveries.

Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both. (Graphic nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77950-382-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

GET THE SCOOP ON ANIMAL SNOT, SPIT & SLIME!

FROM SNAKE VENOM TO FISH SLIME, 251 COOL FACTS ABOUT MUCUS, SALIVA & MORE

Cusick floats a slick, select gallery of nature’s spitters, nose-pickers, oozers, and slimers—most but not all nonhuman—atop nourishing globs of scientific information.

Title notwithstanding, the book is limited just to mucus and saliva. Following introductory looks at the major components of each, Cusick describes their often similar uses in nature—in swallowing or expelling foreign matter, fighting disease, predation and defense, camouflage, travel, communication (“Aren’t you glad humans use words to communicate?”), home construction, nutrition, and more. All of this is presented in easily digestible observations placed among, and often referring to, color photos of slime-covered goby fish, a giraffe with its tongue up its nose, various drooling animals, including a white infant, and like photogenic subjects. Two simple experiments cater to hands-on types, but any readers who take delight in sentences like “Some fungus beetles eat snail slime mucus” come away both stimulated and informed.

What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63322-115-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Moondance/Quarto

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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