A well-crafted tribute to a fascinating aviation pioneer.

Lang’s portrait commemorates the centennial of Ruth Law’s record-breaking flight from Chicago to New York.

Law, who performed daredevil tricks for spectators in her Curtiss Pusher biplane, set a higher goal: to best the new nonstop-flight record just set by Victor Carlstrom. Law petitioned Glenn Curtiss for his newest model, which Carlstrom had flown—a large one, with a 205-gallon fuel tank. Curtiss refused, doubting Law’s ability to handle the powerful plane and long flight. Instead, Ruth and her mechanics modified her little open-cockpit biplane, installing a metal wind guard and extra fuel tanks that increased capacity from 16 gallons to 53. (Oddly, Lang omits a significant detail: the plane’s lights were removed to lighten it.) Effectively employing short, staccato phrases, Lang creates a riveting, “you are there” narrative. Law correctly interprets her engine’s sounds, gauges, compass, map, and landmarks, prudently touching down twice before reaching New York City—but after besting Carlstrom’s record. Well-chosen quotes from Law further enliven the text (though two, inserted within the flight’s narrative, predate it). Colón’s rich compositions—in colored pencil and crayon on paper “etched” with swirling lines—use a primary palette of gold and charcoal brown, with layers of turquoise for water and sky. Colón correctly depicts Law’s lever controls; there’s a captioned photo highlighting the detail. Readers may feel the absence of a contextualizing timeline.

A well-crafted tribute to a fascinating aviation pioneer. (author’s note, photographs, bibliography, collections and exhibits, websites, source notes) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62091-650-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016


A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020


A delightful story of a cross-racial friendship between two kids who realize how much they need each other and the passions...

STEM becomes STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) as Melia, an inventor, and Jo, a dancer, discover that they’re a dynamic team.

Melia loves to invent things and tinker all day long in her backyard. Then Jo moves in next door and dances her way into Melia’s inventing space. With total disregard for the sanctity of Melia’s creations, Jo flips Melia’s cereal-bowl radio onto her head to wear it as a hat, sticks a rope of black licorice into the neck of an unfinished robot, and chucks a paper airplane—that Melia is still designing—into the air. Although she’s miffed at Jo’s invasion of her space, Melia realizes that Jo has inadvertently solved some puzzling conundrums. When Melia shows Jo what a difference she has made, Jo refuses to partner with Melia…until one of Melia’s inventions saves her. Their contrasting personalities are effectively delineated in the retro-styled illustrations: Brown-skinned Jo wears a pinky-purple tutu, a pearl necklace, and feathers in her hair; blonde-haired, peachy-skinned Melia wears shorts and an orange cape and boots. The backmatter provides instructions for how to make Melia’s paper airplane and explains the benefits of turning STEM into STEAM.

A delightful story of a cross-racial friendship between two kids who realize how much they need each other and the passions that each brings to the friendship. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-328-91626-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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