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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A launch-pad fizzle.

THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF SPACE

Flaps and pull-tabs in assorted astro-scenes reveal several wonders of the universe as well as inside glimpses of observatories, rockets, a space suit, and the International Space Station.

Interactive features include a spinnable Milky Way, pop-up launches of Ariane and Soyuz rockets, a solar-system tour, visits to the surfaces of the moon and Mars, and cutaway views beneath long, thin flaps of an international array of launch vehicles. Despite these bells and whistles, this import is far from ready for liftoff. Not only has Antarctica somehow gone missing from the pop-up globe, but Baumann’s commentary (at least in Booker’s translation from the French original) shows more enthusiasm than strict attention to accuracy. Both Mercury and Venus are designated “hottest planet” (right answer: Venus); claims that there is no gravity in space and that black holes are a type of star are at best simplistic; and “we do not know what [other galaxies] actually look like” is nonsensical. Moreover, in a clumsy attempt to diversify the cast on a spread about astronaut training, Latyk gives an (evidently) Asian figure caricatured slit eyes and yellow skin.

A launch-pad fizzle. (Informational pop-up picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 979-1-02760-197-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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Life’s questions remain unanswered in this attractive but frustratingly bland book.

THE BOY AND THE SEA

A boy’s life is steered by and reflected in his relationship with the sea.

In a series of swirling, impressionistic, watercolor seascapes, a dark-haired, white-skinned boy is pictured at different life stages: as a young child; as a grown man with a family; and as an old man. At each stage, he receives a meaningful message from the sea. His moods are reflected in the moods of the sea, sometimes “dark and dangerous,” sometimes “tranquil and tender.” As the boy moves through the life stages, both he and the sea feel “the pull of something more.” He looks to the sea for answers to life’s questions, and sometimes they are answered—but just with a word: dream, love, be. Even when he is grown, he still does not know the answers to his questions. In its coverage of an entire life’s span, the book seems to be attempting to provide a universal message of guidance for growing up, but it’s too general and lacking in any kind of strong connection to be of value or of interest to a developing child. Small vignettes hint at adolescent conflicts, but so obliquely and superficially as to be valueless and at times obscure—particularly given that the audience for this book has not yet reached adolescence. That said, Bates’ paintings are lovely, capturing foamy, cresting waves in varying degrees of vigor; this seascape is never still. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 50% of actual size.)

Life’s questions remain unanswered in this attractive but frustratingly bland book. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4940-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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