A patchwork production, far less seaworthy than, for instance, Sally Walker’s two titles on the subject.

The story of the first attack submarine’s drastically brief career and, nearly a century and a half later, rediscovery.

Even though it was, as the author artlessly puts it, “well-designed and well-crafted in the American spirit of invention,” the H.L. Hunley sank repeatedly in tests and never came back from its first mission in 1864. Rather than go into details about how the submarine worked (sort of), Hawk opts to extend her simply written version of its exploits with tangentially related chapters on the battle of Shiloh, the end of the Civil War, and an undocumented (she admits) legend that romantically links a gold coin found in the wreck with the sub’s captain, George Dixon, and a Southern belle named Queenie Bennet. Likewise, Wyrick’s uncaptioned reconstructions of battle scenes and the submarine underwater (which are not always placed near the actions they describe) don’t serve quite as well as the more informative period views of the vessel and its interior that have been used to illustrate other treatments. The account switches to photos and does go into somewhat more detail when describing how the wreck was found in 1995, raised in 2000, and transported to a lab; in a final chapter, a conservator and an archaeologist describe their still-ongoing restoration work.

A patchwork production, far less seaworthy than, for instance, Sally Walker’s two titles on the subject. (map, resource lists) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61117-788-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Young Palmetto Books

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017


From the All About America series

Shot through with vague generalities and paired to a mix of equally generic period images and static new art, this overview remorselessly sucks all the juice from its topic.

This survey of the growth of industries in this country from the Colonial period to the post–World War II era is written in the driest of textbook-ese: “Factories needed good transportation so that materials could reach them and so that materials could reach buyers”; “The metal iron is obtained by heating iron ore”; “In 1860, the North said that free men, not slaves, should do the work.” This text is supplemented by a jumble of narrative-overview blocks, boxed side observations and terse captions on each thematic spread. The design is packed with overlapping, misleadingly seamless and rarely differentiated mixes of small, heavily trimmed contemporary prints or (later) photos and drab reconstructions of workshop or factory scenes, along with pictures of significant inventions and technological innovations (which are, in several cases, reduced to background design elements). The single, tiny map has no identifying labels. Other new entries in the All About America series deal similarly with Explorers, Trappers, and Pioneers, A Nation of Immigrants and Stagecoaches and Railroads. Utilitarian, at best—but more likely to dim reader interest than kindle it. (index, timeline, resource lists) (Nonfiction. 8-10)


Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7534-6670-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kingfisher

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012



From the Technical Tales series

Young makers will find the Scrap Pack’s enthusiasm infectious, but even as broad overviews, these offer at best incomplete...

A mouse, a bird, and a junkyard frog assemble a car from the ground up—cluing in readers who may be a bit vague on what’s beneath all those hoods…or at least what used to be.

Enlisting his green buddy Hank to supply the parts and feathered Phoebe to draw up the plans, Eli, “king of crazy ideas,” sees his latest project grow from a frame and some miscellaneous loose parts to a nifty blue convertible with a classic 1950s look. At each stage, Sodomka supplies clearly drawn angled or cutaway views with dozens of major components labeled, from “steering knuckle bracket” to “tie rod” and “ball joint.” The gas tank is labeled but seems to be missing, though, and readers who want to know what a “differential” actually does or the purpose of the “indicator switch” are out of luck. Lacey’s claim that an engine “is like the brain of the car” doesn’t bear close examination, either. Moreover, the finished auto isn’t much like most modern cars, as it has no electronic elements, for instance, and is powered by a three-cylinder engine (misleadingly billed as “regular”) quaintly fed by a long-obsolescent carburetor. With an auto under their belts (and with similar oversimplification), Eli’s “Scrap Pack” goes on to an even more ambitious enterprise in How to Build a Plane. In both volumes, closer looks at selected systems or related topics follow the storyline’s happy conclusion, and each broad trial-and-error step in the construction is recapped at the end.

Young makers will find the Scrap Pack’s enthusiasm infectious, but even as broad overviews, these offer at best incomplete pictures. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63322-041-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Quarto

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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