ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL

In what has, for no discernable reason, become a rush to publish biographies of Bell, this emerges as the least formal, most approachable of the pack. MacLeod (I Heard a Little Baa, 1998) takes the great inventor, familiarly dubbed “AGB,” from Edinburgh to Ontario, on to Boston, and finally to his estate in Nova Scotia, giving his public and private lives equal attention, capturing his vast range of interest from aeronautics to audiology, and bringing his familiar exploits to life. A stubby caricature of Bell guides readers through full but not overcrowded collages of family photos, manuscript pages, simple diagrams, period advertisements, and newspaper illustrations. This is just a glimpse of the man, of course, and those who want to take a longer look can start with either the web sites listed at the back, or move on to Tom L. Matthews’s Always Inventing (p. 69). (index) (Biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 1-55074-456-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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SILVER RAIN BROWN

The hazy hot summer seems interminable for a young African-American boy and his pregnant mother. “Can’t cool down!” is the refrain that reverberates throughout the tale, and it’s literally true; lack of rain has put the city on a water conservation alert and the mother worries about all her flowers. Instead of despairing, mother and child surreptitiously water the plants using kitchen pots under the cloak of darkness; the theme of personal resilience and coping permeates the tale. A cooling, life-giving rain heralds the onset of the mother’s labor and the arrival of a new baby sister, Silver Rain Brown. The special bond between mother and son is readily apparent in Flavin’s full-page, full-color illustrations. As for the father, there is only one reference for readers to interpret: “Four a.m. and I can’t sleep, wishing Daddy would come back, wishing, wishing it would rain.” Helldorfer deftly captures the heavy oppressiveness of a summer heat wave, from children attempting to fry eggs on the sidewalk to short tempers and sleeping the hot days away, while Flavin’s illustrations artfully reflect the shimmering cityscapes. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-73093-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1999

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RIVER

In a series of folk-art paintings, Atwell (Barn, 1996) charts an American river’s decline from unspoiled to trash-strewn, then its recovery due to the efforts of concerned people. Although readers may be thrown by the brief text’s vagueness (“They changed the warehouses. They tore down some of the factories. They planted trees. They wanted to share”), the message comes through clearly in the striking riverine scenes, as bright skies and blue waters change to lowering clouds and gray dinginess, then back to idealized views of grassy approaches and families at play. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-93546-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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