SKYSCRAPERS

HOW AMERICA GREW UP

This informative history of modern skyscrapers may not attract many young readers. Beginning with the pyramids, Severance (Einstein, 1999, etc.) traces the history of tall buildings worldwide with particular emphasis on the US. He links technical advances, inventions, economic conditions, and social forces. For example, three factors were necessary for the development of multistory buildings: Otis invented the safety-brake, steam-powered elevator in the 1850s; plumbing technology permitted installation of bathrooms in upper floors; and the waterfront area of New York City needed more office space. Short biographical information about the lives and accomplishments of the inventors and the builders put the buildings in a historical context. Severance describes many of the problems related to these huge buildings. At the Sears Tower in Chicago, it took half an hour for some people to get from street level to their offices. The Hancock Tower in Boston had glass windows and doors pop out in high winds. Cost-cutting at the Citicorp building in New York City caused a major reconstruction to avoid building collapse in a hurricane. St. Peter’s church built into the Citicorp building created major design problems. Severance describes the innovative construction techniques to overcome the problems but unfortunately neglects to mention the important work of sculptor Louise Nevelson in the interior design of the church. A bibliography and index are helpful. Words are descriptive, but interesting illustrations would have brought the text alive. Black-and-white exterior images of buildings do not do it. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: June 15, 2000

ISBN: 0-8234-1492-2

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000

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NIM'S ISLAND

A child finds that being alone in a tiny tropical paradise has its ups and downs in this appealingly offbeat tale from the Australian author of Peeling the Onion (1999). Though her mother is long dead and her scientist father Jack has just sailed off on a quick expedition to gather plankton, Nim is anything but lonely on her small island home. Not only does she have constant companions in Selkie, a sea lion, and a marine iguana named Fred, but Chica, a green turtle, has just arrived for an annual egg-laying—and, through the solar-powered laptop, she has even made a new e-mail friend in famed adventure novelist Alex Rover. Then a string of mishaps darkens Nim’s sunny skies: her father loses rudder and dish antenna in a storm; a tourist ship that was involved in her mother’s death appears off the island’s reefs; and, running down a volcanic slope, Nim takes a nasty spill that leaves her feverish, with an infected knee. Though she lives halfway around the world and is in reality a decidedly unadventurous urbanite, Alex, short for “Alexandra,” sets off to the rescue, arriving in the midst of another storm that requires Nim and companions to rescue her. Once Jack brings his battered boat limping home, the stage is set for sunny days again. Plenty of comic, freely-sketched line drawings help to keep the tone light, and Nim, with her unusual associates and just-right mix of self-reliance and vulnerability, makes a character young readers won’t soon tire of. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-81123-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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THE RIGHT-UNDER CLUB

Summertime finds a strange combination of five middle-schoolers high up in a leafy tree house in their newly formed support group, the “R.U. Club,” where the secret is what “R.U.” means and what they do in the club. They could not be more unlike one another and yet each deeply understands what it is like to live in a new family because of death or divorce: They feel like leftovers, “even though we are right under their noses.” Each one takes a turn to describe her concern or worry. Anonymously, in written suggestions and then in group brainstorming sessions, they discuss solutions. Then as the girls put their trust in collective wisdom and thoughtfully apply effort and action through careful heartfelt adherence to club rules, camaraderie develops. Mounting interest in the characters and their adjustments to family life builds to a too-sweet conclusion, which could be redressed in a sequel, yet five genuine multifaceted characters together with their families make a large cast of characters. which Deriso handles adeptly. An interesting group that begs for a sequel. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: July 10, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-385-73334-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2007

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