For today’s curious children, this intriguing and accessible blend of words and pictures will provide a splendid...

ON A BEAM OF LIGHT

A boy who asked too many questions becomes iconic physicist Albert Einstein, whose questions changed the world.

The author of Manfish (illustrated by Eric Puybaret, 2008) presents another dreamer, a man who “asked questions never asked before. / Found answers never found before. / And dreamed up ideas never dreamt before.” Story and perfectly matched illustrations begin with the small boy who talked late, watched and thought, and imagined traveling through space on a light beam. Readers see the curious child growing into the man who constantly read and learned and wondered. With gouache, pen and ink, Radunsky’s humorous, childlike drawings convey Einstein’s personality as well as the important ideas in the text (which are set out in red letters). The narrative text includes several of Einstein’s big ideas about time and space; one illustration and the back endpapers include the famous formula. The mottled, textured paper of each page reinforces the concept that everything is made of atoms. A nice touch at the end shows children who might also wonder, think and imagine dressed in the professor’s plaid suit. An author’s note adds a little more about the person and the scientist.

For today’s curious children, this intriguing and accessible blend of words and pictures will provide a splendid introduction to a man who never stopped questioning. (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8118-7235-5

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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Adventure, humor, and smart, likable characters make for a winning chapter book.

ADA TWIST AND THE PERILOUS PANTS

From the Questioneers series , Vol. 2

Ada Twist’s incessant stream of questions leads to answers that help solve a neighborhood crisis.

Ada conducts experiments at home to answer questions such as, why does Mom’s coffee smell stronger than Dad’s coffee? Each answer leads to another question, another hypothesis, and another experiment, which is how she goes from collecting data on backyard birds for a citizen-science project to helping Rosie Revere figure out how to get her uncle Ned down from the sky, where his helium-filled “perilous pants” are keeping him afloat. The Questioneers—Rosie the engineer, Iggy Peck the architect, and Ada the scientist—work together, asking questions like scientists. Armed with knowledge (of molecules and air pressure, force and temperature) but more importantly, with curiosity, Ada works out a solution. Ada is a recognizable, three-dimensional girl in this delightfully silly chapter book: tirelessly curious and determined yet easily excited and still learning to express herself. If science concepts aren’t completely clear in this romp, relationships and emotions certainly are. In playful full- and half-page illustrations that break up the text, Ada is black with Afro-textured hair; Rosie and Iggy are white. A closing section on citizen science may inspire readers to get involved in science too; on the other hand, the “Ode to a Gas!” may just puzzle them. Other backmatter topics include the importance of bird study and the threat palm-oil use poses to rainforests.

Adventure, humor, and smart, likable characters make for a winning chapter book. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3422-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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