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

READ REVIEW

WHAT MISS MITCHELL SAW

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 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An inspiring introduction to the young Nobel Peace Prize winner and a useful conversation starter

MALALA'S MAGIC PENCIL

The latest of many picture books about the young heroine from Pakistan, this one is narrated by Malala herself, with a frame that is accessible to young readers.

Malala introduces her story using a television show she used to watch about a boy with a magic pencil that he used to get himself and his friends out of trouble. Readers can easily follow Malala through her own discovery of troubles in her beloved home village, such as other children not attending school and soldiers taking over the village. Watercolor-and-ink illustrations give a strong sense of setting, while gold ink designs overlay Malala’s hopes onto her often dreary reality. The story makes clear Malala’s motivations for taking up the pen to tell the world about the hardships in her village and only alludes to the attempt on her life, with a black page (“the dangerous men tried to silence me. / But they failed”) and a hospital bracelet on her wrist the only hints of the harm that came to her. Crowds with signs join her call before she is shown giving her famous speech before the United Nations. Toward the end of the book, adult readers may need to help children understand Malala’s “work,” but the message of holding fast to courage and working together is powerful and clear.

An inspiring introduction to the young Nobel Peace Prize winner and a useful conversation starter . (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-31957-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more