An engaging book about a larger-than-life character.




An account of how Brazilian aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont won the prestigious Deutsch Prize at the turn of the 20th century.

Alberto Santos-Dumont grew up in Brazil, the son of a coffee-plantation owner. As a boy, he “dreamed that one day, he would fly,” and added to this dream was a fascination with machinery. As a young man and going by Santos, he left for France to study science. There, inspired by his first hot air balloon flight, Santos dedicated his life to designing an airship that would be propelled by its own power. Author/illustrator Rob Polivka—whose style is somewhat reminiscent of Belgian cartoonist Hergé’s—provides sketches of the various prototypes as well as scenes of the different flight attempts—illustrating them with a touch of humor—and of Santos’ much admired and written-about life in Paris. When the 100,000-franc Deutsch Prize was announced, challenging members of Paris’ Aero Club to fly from the club to the Eiffel Tower and back (a distance of a little over 7 miles) in 30 minutes, Santos was ready for the challenge. On Oct. 19, 1901, Santos won and so “played his part in the world’s dream of flight.” Although well-known in Brazil and in France, Santos is largely unfamiliar to American audiences, particularly children, making this a good complement to other picture books. Santos is depicted with black hair and olive skin; Paris crowd scenes include a few people of color.

An engaging book about a larger-than-life character. (author’s note, bibliography, fun facts, and a timeline of aeronautics invention) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-374-30661-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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


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


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

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