While perhaps not the most boisterous telling of this tale, it will nevertheless sweep readers away.

READ REVIEW

UP AND AWAY!

HOW TWO BROTHERS INVENTED THE HOT-AIR BALLOON

Designer Henry’s authorial debut explores the 18th-century invention of the hot air balloon.

Joseph-Michel Montgolfier, a Frenchman, had always found the mechanics of the world fascinating. One day, some of his papers drifted into his fireplace, and to his surprise, he noticed that the smaller pieces were rising above the flames. He realized that if the gas released by the fire had the ability to lift paper, it might be able to carry other things as well. He set about testing his hypothesis, and, with his brother Jacques-Étienne, he crafted “the world’s first flying machine”: a hot air balloon they called an “aerostat.” When Louis XVI got wind of their invention, he requested a demonstration, and the brothers set about planning, fitting the outside of their balloon with ornamentations fit for a king. When the day arrived, they famously sent a rooster, a duck, and a sheep up in their balloon, hosting for both the king and many French citizens the first-ever public demonstration of a hot air balloon. Henry’s narration is straightforward but engaging. The illustrations, rendered digitally, use a slightly dusty color palette that combines with such design elements as ornate golden frames in closing text boxes to nicely evoke the setting and era (all humans depicted are white). Backmatter includes a bibliography, list of further reading, and timeline of flight.

While perhaps not the most boisterous telling of this tale, it will nevertheless sweep readers away. (Informational picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2360-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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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

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It’s nothing new in territory or angle, but it’s still a serviceable survey with reasonably durable moving parts.

THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF PLANET EARTH

Flaps, pull tabs, and pop-ups large and small enhance views of our planet’s inside, outside, atmosphere, biosphere, and geophysics.

It’s a hefty, high-speed tour through Earth’s features, climates, and natural resources, with compressed surveys of special topics on multileveled flaps and a spread on the history of life that is extended by a double-foldout wing. But even when teeming with small images of land forms, wildlife, or diverse groups of children and adults, Balicevic’s bright cartoon illustrations look relatively uncrowded. Although the quality of the paper engineering is uneven, the special effects add dramatic set pieces: Readers need to hold in place a humongous column of cumulonimbus clouds for it to reach its full extension; a volcano erupts in a gratifyingly large scale; and, on the plate-tectonics spread, a pull tab gives readers the opportunity to run the Indian Plate into the Eurasian one and see the Himalayas bulge up. A final spread showing resources, mostly renewable ones, being tapped ends with an appeal to protect “our only home.” All in all, it’s a likely alternative to Dougal Jerram’s Utterly Amazing Earth, illustrated by Dan Crisp and Molly Lattin (2017), being broader in scope and a bit more generous in its level of detail.

It’s nothing new in territory or angle, but it’s still a serviceable survey with reasonably durable moving parts. (Informational novelty. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 979-1-02760-562-0

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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