An elegant reminder of solitary pleasure in nature.

A YEAR IN THE WOODS

Selections from Thoreau’s Walden are illustrated with full-page and double-page watercolors.

With dramatic use of negative space, a white moon in a dark blue sky glows above blue-tinged deciduous and pine trees, all reflected in a calm, un-rippled Walden Pond. The page opposite—decorated with two delicately rendered leaves (oak and maple)—begins: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately…” and concludes with a few more sentences describing why Thoreau wanted to live “sturdily and Spartan-like” for a year. The page turns to a double-page spread of Walden Pond during the day—equally serene—with a young, lanky Thoreau—walking stick in hand—gazing across its expanse. Throughout the book, short, positive musings are complemented by equally idyllic artwork, whether Henry is building his cabin, spending time in the pine woods—his “ ‘best’ room”—or reading by his fireplace while snow gathers outside. Only the least controversial of Walden’s many ideas have been chosen, resulting in a serene tone. The chosen text is poetic—if quaint—and both text and art compel readers to slow down in contemplation. Although the publisher recommends “interest level” for ages 9 and up, younger readers will enjoy the language’s rhythm and the soothing art; conversely, older readers will, hopefully, be inspired to read the original.

An elegant reminder of solitary pleasure in nature. (Picture book/memoir. 8-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-56846-305-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats.

50 IMPRESSIVE KIDS AND THEIR AMAZING (AND TRUE!) STORIES

From the They Did What? series

Why should grown-ups get all the historical, scientific, athletic, cinematic, and artistic glory?

Choosing exemplars from both past and present, Mitchell includes but goes well beyond Alexander the Great, Anne Frank, and like usual suspects to introduce a host of lesser-known luminaries. These include Shapur II, who was formally crowned king of Persia before he was born, Indian dancer/professional architect Sheila Sri Prakash, transgender spokesperson Jazz Jennings, inventor Param Jaggi, and an international host of other teen or preteen activists and prodigies. The individual portraits range from one paragraph to several pages in length, and they are interspersed with group tributes to, for instance, the Nazi-resisting “Swingkinder,” the striking New York City newsboys, and the marchers of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade. Mitchell even offers would-be villains a role model in Elagabalus, “boy emperor of Rome,” though she notes that he, at least, came to an awful end: “Then, then! They dumped his remains in the Tiber River, to be nommed by fish for all eternity.” The entries are arranged in no evident order, and though the backmatter includes multiple booklists, a personality quiz, a glossary, and even a quick Braille primer (with Braille jokes to decode), there is no index. Still, for readers whose fires need lighting, there’s motivational kindling on nearly every page.

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats. (finished illustrations not seen) (Collective biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-14-751813-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both.

FLASH FACTS

Flash, Batman, and other characters from the DC Comics universe tackle supervillains and STEM-related topics and sometimes, both.

Credited to 20 writers and illustrators in various combinations, the 10 episodes invite readers to tag along as Mera and Aquaman visit oceanic zones from epipelagic to hadalpelagic; Supergirl helps a young scholar pick a science-project topic by taking her on a tour of the solar system; and Swamp Thing lends Poison Ivy a hand to describe how DNA works (later joining Swamp Kid to scuttle a climate-altering scheme by Arcane). In other episodes, various costumed creations explain the ins and outs of diverse large- and small-scale phenomena, including electricity, atomic structure, forensic techniques, 3-D printing, and the lactate threshold. Presumably on the supposition that the characters will be more familiar to readers than the science, the minilectures tend to start from simple basics, but the figures are mostly both redrawn to look more childlike than in the comics and identified only in passing. Drawing styles and page designs differ from chapter to chapter but not enough to interrupt overall visual unity and flow—and the cast is sufficiently diverse to include roles for superheroes (and villains) of color like Cyborg, Kid Flash, and the Latina Green Lantern, Jessica Cruz. Appended lists of websites and science-based YouTube channels, plus instructions for homespun activities related to each episode, point inspired STEM-winders toward further discoveries.

Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both. (Graphic nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77950-382-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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