From any perspective, Older’s yeomanly tale of the snow vehicle’s birth is as worthy to know as the inspiration of the...

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SNOWMOBILE

BOMBARDIER'S DREAM MACHINE

The quest to invent a skimobile, which burned in one man’s heart as fiercely as the Holy Grail, as researched and re-imagined by Older.

Older tells the story of Joseph-Armand Bombardier in the unhurried manner of a river approaching the sea, allowing for plenty of twists and turns as it goes its leisurely way. Bombardier was a boy of his time, and his time—the early years of the 20th century—was all about engines. Link that to his home place—Quebec, where it snowed like crazy for seven months a year and no one bothered to plow the few roads—and his drive to create a snow vehicle is as understandable as might be his love for hot chocolate. The author charts his route from his small village to Montreal, his journeymanship as a mechanic, his marriage and the loss of his son because he couldn’t get him to the hospital through the winter drifts. His gradual fashioning of his workhorse snow machine “to carry doctors to patients, priests to parishioners, children to school” unfolds naturally. It’s a warm story, made toastier still by Lauritano’s spare, retro drawings, which are complemented by period photographs. An affectionate author’s note parses fact from fiction and is followed by a timeline, a bibliography, glossary and index.

From any perspective, Older’s yeomanly tale of the snow vehicle’s birth is as worthy to know as the inspiration of the Iditarod. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58089-334-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2011

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A rare chance to shine for the former ninth planet.

PLUTO'S SECRET

AN ICY WORLD'S TALE OF DISCOVERY

Is it a planet? A dwarf planet? What’s up with that mysterious body that, even in our best telescopes, floats tantalizingly at the edge of visibility?

Pairing a lighthearted narrative in a hand-lettered–style typeface with informally drawn cartoon illustrations, this lively tale of astronomical revelations begins with the search for “Planet X.” It then sweeps past Pluto’s first sighting by Clyde Tombaugh and its naming by 11-year-old Venetia Burney to the later discovery of more icy worlds—both in our solar system’s Kuiper belt and orbiting other stars. Meanwhile, sailing along with a smug expression, the mottled orange planetoid is “busy dancing with its moons. / Cha-cha / Cha-cha-cha” and Kuiper buddies as it waits for Earth’s astronomers to realize at last that it’s different from the other planets (“BINGO!”) and needs a new classification. Ceres inexplicably rates no entry in the gallery of dwarf planets, and the closing glossary isn’t exactly stellar (“World: Any object in space”), but fans of Basher’s postmodern science surveys will feel right at home with the buoyant mix of personification and hard fact.

A rare chance to shine for the former ninth planet. (photos and additional detail, “Note from the Museum,” suggested reading, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0423-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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MY HAVANA

MEMORIES OF A CUBAN BOYHOOD

Mirroring the career he eventually entered, architect Fernandez builds up, like one of Havana’s ornate structures, memories of childhood in his pre- and post-Castro hometown. A gifted illustrator, he drew constantly, easily rendering even minute architectural details. Before emigrating to New York City, young “Dino” and his family moved first to Madrid to assist relatives. Discovering a dictatorship that wasn’t much different from the one they’d left in Cuba, the family returned home and then finally moved to the United States. Havana was never far from his mind, and art brought solace. So homesick was Dino in Manhattan that he actually “built” a cardboard replica of Havana that captured the colors and warmth he remembered. This fictionalized memoir is for the contemplative reader and anyone who has felt out of place or yearned for a beloved home; it could serve as a catalyst for creative expression. Wells has chosen anecdotes wisely, and Ferguson’s illustrations are atmospheric, capturing Dino’s childlike enthusiasm and longing. An author’s note reveals how Wells came to know of and be inspired by Fernandez’s story. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4305-8

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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