An engrossing portrayal of “a bold, complicated, dangerous, and expensive adventure,” at once broad in scope and rich in...



From the For Kids series

A frank account of our early space program’s ups and downs, with 21 low-tech, hands-on activities.

Readers old enough to be drawn in to Pohlen’s mission-by-mission accounts of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs will likely find the interspersed projects—which range from making a balloon-powered rocket that runs along a string to chucking pebbles into a bowl of light and dark powders to create “craters”—laughably rudimentary. Fortunately, the author’s picture of the brilliant if too-often-slapdash effort that ultimately sent 24 men to the moon and brought them all back is compelling enough to survive distractions. Along with taking due note of the thousands of people, not all of them white or male, who labored to solve the program’s massive technological and logistical challenges, he humanizes the astronauts with frequent references to their families. Plenty of period photos, accounts of memorable incidents en route (“On the mission’s first day, Frank Borman vomited in the equipment bay. Lovell watched a chunky blob the size of a tennis ball float up”), exuberant quotes from mission transcripts (Pete Conrad: “Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but that’s a long one for me!”), and glimpses of their post-Apollo pursuits further this effect as well.

An engrossing portrayal of “a bold, complicated, dangerous, and expensive adventure,” at once broad in scope and rich in specific details. (index, glossary, endnotes, multimedia resources) (Nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-912777-17-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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In this companion to Portraits of War: Civil War Photographers and Their Work (1998), Sullivan presents an album of the prominent ships and men who fought on both sides, matched to an engrossing account of the war's progress: at sea, on the Mississippi, and along the South's well-defended coastline. In his view, the issue never was in doubt, for though the Confederacy fought back with innovative ironclads, sleek blockade runners, well-armed commerce raiders, and sturdy fortifications, from the earliest stages the North was able to seal off, and then take, one major southern port after another. The photos, many of which were made from fragile glass plates whose survival seems near-miraculous, are drawn from private as well as public collections, and some have never been published before. There aren't any action shots, since mid-19th-century photography required very long exposure times, but the author compensates with contemporary prints, plus crisp battle accounts, lucid strategic overviews, and descriptions of the technological developments that, by war's end, gave this country a world-class navy. He also profiles the careers of Matthew Brady and several less well-known photographers, adding another level of interest to a multi-stranded survey. (source notes, index) (Nonfiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7613-1553-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Millbrook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2001

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Far from comprehensive but visually arresting and, at times, provocative.


From the Information Graphics series

Stylized graphics rendered in saturated hues set this quick overview of body systems apart from the general run.

Arranged in tabbed and color-coded sections, the tour covers familiar ground but often from an unusual angle. The tally of human senses at the beginning, for instance, includes “proprioception” (physical multitasking), and ensuing chapters on the skeletal, circulatory and other systems are capped with a miscellany of body contents and products—from selected parasites and chemicals to farts and sweat. Likewise, descriptions of a dozen physical components of the “Brain Box” are followed by notes on more slippery mental functions like “Consciousness” and “Imagination.” The facts and observations gathered by Rogers are presented as labels or captions. They are interspersed on each spread with flat, eye-dazzling images designed by Grundy not with anatomical correctness in mind but to show processes or relationships at a glance. Thus, to show body parts most sensitive to touch, a silhouette figure sports an oversized hand and foot, plus Homer Simpson lips (though genitals are absent, which seems overcautious as an explicit section on reproduction follows a few pages later), and a stack of bathtubs illustrates the quantity of urine the average adult produces in an average lifetime (385 bathtubs’ worth). There is no backmatter.

Far from comprehensive but visually arresting and, at times, provocative. (Nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7123-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Big Picture/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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