This nebulous biography fails to resolve into a clear picture.

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MISTER T.V.

Of the many inventors experimenting in the early 20th century with what became television, John Logie Baird was the first to build a working mechanical machine that transmitted live, moving pictures.

Unfortunately, those are the only significant facts revealed in this sketchy, disappointing biography. Baird, identified by only his first name throughout the narrative, grew up sickly in Scotland in a home full of books. The nature of his illness is never revealed, nor are the titles of the books he read that may have inspired his interest in inventing. Baird’s first invention was a homemade telephone exchange, followed by a machine to generate electricity for his home. Readers never learn when and how he created them, however. His other inventions included a glass razor and shoes filled with air for comfort. While convalescing from another unnamed illness, Baird read about an unidentified inventor attempting to build a machine that could show “real-life pictures” to people in their homes. Baird succeeded in building the first machine able to do this, but how he achieved it is vaguely explained. A timeline reveals that Baird also gave the first demonstration of color TV in 1944. Complementing the inadequate information are bland cartoon illustrations that depict an all-White cast until one concluding picture of an interracial family watching a flat screen. There are no source notes or bibliography.

This nebulous biography fails to resolve into a clear picture. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-84886-646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Maverick Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants.

A WORLD TOGETHER

Large color photographs (occasionally composed of montages) and accessible, simple text highlight global similarities and differences, always focusing on our universal connections.

While child readers may not recognize Manzano, the Puerto Rican actress who played Maria on Sesame Street, adults will recognize her as a trusted diverse voice. In her endnote, she explains her desire to “encourage lively conversations about shared experiences.” Starting out with the familiar, home and community, the text begins with “How many WONDERFUL PEOPLE do you know?” Then it moves out to the world: “Did you know there are about 8 BILLION PEOPLE on the planet?” The photo essay features the usual concrete similarities and differences found in many books of this type, such as housing (a Mongolian yurt opposite a Hong Kong apartment building overlooking a basketball court), food (dumplings, pizza, cotton candy, a churro, etc.), and school. Manzano also makes sure to point out likenesses in emotions, as shown in a montage of photos from countries including China, Spain, Kashmir (Pakistan/India), and the United States. At the end, a world map and thumbnail images show the locations of all photos, revealing a preponderance of examples from the U.S. and a slight underrepresentation for Africa and South America.

Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3738-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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