THE DIAMOND AND THE BOY

THE CREATION OF DIAMONDS & THE LIFE OF H. TRACY HALL

Engineer and author Holt’s first picture book introduces “A ROCK / named graphite, / A BOY / named Tracy.”

In two, parallel free-verse narratives, Holt tells the stories of both the creation of natural diamonds and the invention of synthetic diamonds. Versos detail how diamonds are naturally produced and harvested: “Mighty, unyielding, brilliant. / The rock would dazzle if it had / any light to reflect, / but it doesn’t. / A crystal, even a priceless one, / is still only a lump / in the dirt / until it is found.” The recto shares the life of H. Tracy Hall (Holt’s grandfather) from his childhood through his invention of his diamond-producing machine: “Mighty, unyielding, brilliant. / His inventions dazzle classmates. / But Tracy is still penny poor, with so / many ideas floating just out of reach. / … / Even a genius must eat and sleep / before his dreams can be found.” The parallel narrative structure is a compelling one, although occasionally the technique slows the momentum of one or both of the narratives. Illustrator Fleck uses full-bleed spreads of bold colors and simple lines, rendered with pencil and digitally, to effectively emphasize the scope and significance of both creations, cannily varying the palette to emphasize the parallel structure.

A quiet gem. (scientific note, biographical note, timeline, bibliography) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-265903-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era.

I AM RUBY BRIDGES

The New Orleans school child who famously broke the color line in 1960 while surrounded by federal marshals describes the early days of her experience from a 6-year-old’s perspective.

Bridges told her tale to younger children in 2009’s Ruby Bridges Goes to School, but here the sensibility is more personal, and the sometimes-shocking historical photos have been replaced by uplifting painted scenes. “I didn’t find out what being ‘the first’ really meant until the day I arrived at this new school,” she writes. Unfrightened by the crowd of “screaming white people” that greets her at the school’s door (she thinks it’s like Mardi Gras) but surprised to find herself the only child in her classroom, and even the entire building, she gradually realizes the significance of her act as (in Smith’s illustration) she compares a small personal photo to the all-White class photos posted on a bulletin board and sees the difference. As she reflects on her new understanding, symbolic scenes first depict other dark-skinned children marching into classes in her wake to friendly greetings from lighter-skinned classmates (“School is just school,” she sensibly concludes, “and kids are just kids”) and finally an image of the bright-eyed icon posed next to a soaring bridge of reconciliation. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era. (author and illustrator notes, glossary) (Autobiographical picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-75388-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard.

HELLO AUTUMN!

Rotner follows Hello Spring (2017) with this salute to the fall season.

Name a change seen in northern climes in fall, and Rotner likely covers it here, from plants, trees, and animals to the food we harvest: seeds are spread, the days grow shorter and cooler, the leaves change and fall (and are raked up and jumped in), some animals migrate, and many families celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving. As in the previous book, the photographs (presented in a variety of sizes and layouts, all clean) are the stars here, displaying both the myriad changes of the season and a multicultural array of children enjoying the outdoors in fall. These are set against white backgrounds that make the reddish-orange print pop. The text itself uses short sentences and some solid vocabulary (though “deep sleep” is used instead of “hibernate”) to teach readers the markers of autumn, though in the quest for simplicity, Rotner sacrifices some truth. In several cases, the addition of just a few words would have made the following oversimplified statements reflect reality: “Birds grow more feathers”; “Cranberries float and turn red.” Also, Rotner includes the statement “Bees store extra honey in their hives” on a page about animals going into deep sleep, implying that honeybees hibernate, which is false.

Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3869-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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