An involving addition to the women-in-STEM shelves.

A tale of astronomical accomplishment.

Born on the island of Nantucket, Maria Mitchell grows up among the dunes and knows the local whaling vessels and shopkeepers by name. Illustrations rendered in gouache, watercolor, and ink initially depict her island world and move on to the endless sky she later studies. Because of her hardworking nature—she perseveres at school despite finding it challenging—her mother suggests her father take her on as an astronomy assistant. This leads Maria to learn the stars, planets, and celestial events by name as well, as she begins to “sweep the sky” with her telescope. Later on, she notices a new glow—a comet! At the advice of her father, she reports her discovery, which earns her a gold medal from the king of Denmark and worldwide recognition. While the text has a nice flow and a poetic feel, the meaning of the specialized vocabulary introduced is not always evident. Though the illustrations of an all-white cast in old-fashioned garb set the story squarely in the past, the time frame is not presented until the final notes, and readers unfamiliar with women’s history may be unaware of how unusual Mitchell’s accomplishments were if they miss them. Still, this is an engaging story of women’s history and astronomy that may inspire readers to further biographical research and exploration of STEM.

An involving addition to the women-in-STEM shelves. (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8759-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019


A gleeful game for budding naturalists.

Artfully cropped animal portraits challenge viewers to guess which end they’re seeing.

In what will be a crowd-pleasing and inevitably raucous guessing game, a series of close-up stock photos invite children to call out one of the titular alternatives. A page turn reveals answers and basic facts about each creature backed up by more of the latter in a closing map and table. Some of the posers, like the tail of an okapi or the nose on a proboscis monkey, are easy enough to guess—but the moist nose on a star-nosed mole really does look like an anus, and the false “eyes” on the hind ends of a Cuyaba dwarf frog and a Promethea moth caterpillar will fool many. Better yet, Lavelle saves a kicker for the finale with a glimpse of a small parasitical pearlfish peeking out of a sea cucumber’s rear so that the answer is actually face and butt. “Animal identification can be tricky!” she concludes, noting that many of the features here function as defenses against attack: “In the animal world, sometimes your butt will save your face and your face just might save your butt!” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gleeful game for budding naturalists. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781728271170

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023


Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

Close Quickview