Charmingly inspirational in tone despite a dearth of science heft.

MARIE CURIE

From the It's Her Story series

A slim, heartwarming graphic biography gives a capsule view of the life and discoveries of Marie Curie.

Little Manya Skłodowska, growing up in 19th-century Poland, studies in secret. But Manya and her sisters, drawn with big-eyed and cherubic faces, look out for one another. First Manya works to send her sister Bronya to university, and then, finally, it’s her own turn. At the Sorbonne, in Paris, Manya—now going by Marie—earns repeated recognition for her work. She meets Pierre Curie, and they fall in love. There’s space here for Marie’s loving and happy relationship with Pierre, for the family they raise, for her research and two Nobel Prizes, and for her philanthropy. The sexism Marie encountered in her life is lightly touched upon, and the xenophobia not at all. Pierre, as pink-cheeked as Marie and almost as wide-eyed, is portrayed as an A-plus ally pushing for greater recognition of his wife’s achievements; Pierre Curie’s actual Nobel lecture provides his supportive words. This tiny volume doesn’t delve into the actual science, but it’s likable and irrepressibly cheerful (even though it covers Marie’s and Pierre’s tragic deaths). The illustrations of these White characters are as simple as the text: cartoonish and fond. The periodic table in the illustrations is inaccurate both for Curie’s time and for today, which is a shame.

Charmingly inspirational in tone despite a dearth of science heft. (Graphic biography. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5037-5293-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Sunbird Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal.

JUST LIKE JESSE OWENS

Before growing up to become a major figure in the civil rights movement, a boy finds a role model.

Buffing up a childhood tale told by her renowned father, Young Shelton describes how young Andrew saw scary men marching in his New Orleans neighborhood (“It sounded like they were yelling ‘Hi, Hitler!’ ”). In response to his questions, his father took him to see a newsreel of Jesse Owens (“a runner who looked like me”) triumphing in the 1936 Olympics. “Racism is a sickness,” his father tells him. “We’ve got to help folks like that.” How? “Well, you can start by just being the best person you can be,” his father replies. “It’s what you do that counts.” In James’ hazy chalk pastels, Andrew joins racially diverse playmates (including a White child with an Irish accent proudly displaying the nickel he got from his aunt as a bribe to stop playing with “those Colored boys”) in tag and other games, playing catch with his dad, sitting in the midst of a cheering crowd in the local theater’s segregated balcony, and finally visualizing himself pelting down a track alongside his new hero—“head up, back straight, eyes focused,” as a thematically repeated line has it, on the finish line. An afterword by Young Shelton explains that she retold this story, told to her many times growing up, drawing from conversations with Young and from her own research; family photos are also included. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal. (illustrator’s note) (Autobiographical picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-545-55465-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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