LIFTOFF

A PHOTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN GLENN

Written with the clearly stated intent of inspiring readers to enter public service, this profile presents Glenn’s achievements, both on and off the planet, as the direct results of a lifelong commitment to larger causes. Opening with Glenn’s small-town upbringing (amid “a wholesome mixture of patriotism and a strong sense of community”), and closing with his 2004 testimony against the proposed flag-desecration amendment, Mitchell follows his career from pilot to astronaut to politician back to 1998, at the age of 77, astronaut again. Free of any reference to the “Right Stuff,” and so focused on the supposed scientific rationale of his return to space that its self-indulgent aspect goes likewise unmentioned, this cannot be characterized as an unbiased portrait. But Glenn’s family is present enough here to give the Senator a bit of human dimension, and in the end, he is an authentic American hero, whose exploits require no exaggeration to impress. Illustrated with plenty of large black-and-white photos and punctuated with motivational quotes, this presents a simplified but appealing alternative to the plethora of existing assignment-fodder biographies. (multimedia resource list) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-7922-5899-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2006

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THE PUMPKIN BOOK

The Pumpkin Book (32 pp.; $16.95; Sept. 15; 0-8234-1465-5): From seed to vine and blossom to table, Gibbons traces the growth cycle of everyone’s favorite autumn symbol—the pumpkin. Meticulous drawings detail the transformation of tiny seeds to the colorful gourds that appear at roadside stands and stores in the fall. Directions for planting a pumpkin patch, carving a jack-o’-lantern, and drying the seeds give young gardeners the instructions they need to grow and enjoy their own golden globes. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 1999

ISBN: 0-8234-1465-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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WEATHER

Remarking that ``nothing about the weather is very simple,'' Simon goes on to describe how the sun, atmosphere, earth's rotation, ground cover, altitude, pollution, and other factors influence it; briefly, he also tells how weather balloons gather information. Even for this outstanding author, it's a tough, complex topic, and he's not entirely successful in simplifying it; moreover, the import of the striking uncaptioned color photos here isn't always clear. One passage—``Cumulus clouds sometimes build up into towering masses called cumulus congestus, or swelling cumulus, which may turn into cumulonimbus clouds''—is superimposed on a blue-gray, cloud-covered landscape. But which kind of clouds are these? Another photo, in blue-black and white, shows what might be precipitation in the upper atmosphere, or rain falling on a darkened landscape, or...? Generally competent and certainly attractive, but not Simon's best. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-688-10546-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1993

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