Charmingly inspirational in tone despite a dearth of science heft.


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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Here’s hoping this will inspire many children to joyfully engage in writing.


Both technique and imaginative impulse can be found in this useful selection of poems about the literary art.

Starting with the essentials of the English language, the letters of “Our Alphabet,” the collection moves through 21 other poems of different types, meters, and rhyme schemes. This anthology has clear classroom applications, but it will also be enjoyed by individual readers who can pore carefully over playful illustrations filled with diverse children, butterflies, flowers, books, and pieces of writing. Tackling various parts of the writing process, from “How To Begin” through “Revision Is” to “Final Edit,” the poems also touch on some reasons for writing, like “Thank You Notes” and “Writing About Reading.” Some of the poems are funny, as in the quirky, four-line “If I Were an Octopus”: “I’d grab eight pencils. / All identical. / I’d fill eight notebooks. / One per tentacle.” An amusing undersea scene dominated by a smiling, orangy octopus fills this double-page spread. Some of the poems are more focused (and less lyrical) than others, such as “Final Edit” with its ending stanzas: “I check once more to guarantee / all is flawless as can be. / Careless errors will discredit / my hard work. / That’s why I edit. / But I don’t like it. / There I said it.” At least the poet tries for a little humor in those final lines.

Here’s hoping this will inspire many children to joyfully engage in writing. (Picture book/poetry. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68437-362-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Go adventuring with a better guide.


From the The 50 States series

Find something to do in every state in the U.S.A.!

This guide highlights a location of interest within each of the states, therefore excluding Washington, D.C., and the territories. Trivia about each location is scattered across crisply rendered landscapes that background each state’s double-page spread while diminutive, diverse characters populate the scenes. Befitting the title, one “adventure” is presented per state, such as shrimping in Louisiana’s bayous, snowshoeing in Connecticut, or celebrating the Fourth of July in Boston. While some are stereotypical gimmes (surfing in California), others have the virtue of novelty, at least for this audience, such as viewing the sandhill crane migration in Nebraska. Within this thematic unity, some details go astray, and readers may find themselves searching in vain for animals mentioned. The trivia is plentiful but may be misleading, vague, or incorrect. Information about the Native American peoples of the area is often included, but its brevity—especially regarding sacred locations—means readers are floundering without sufficient context. The same is true for many of the facts that relate directly to expansion and colonialism, such as the unexplained near extinction of bison. Describing the genealogical oral history of South Carolina’s Gullah community as “spin[ning] tales” is equally brusque and offensive. The book tries to do a lot, but it is more style than substance, which may leave readers bored, confused, slightly annoyed—or all three. (This book was reviewed digitally with 12.2-by-20.2-inch double-page spreads viewed at 80% of actual size.)

Go adventuring with a better guide. (tips on local adventuring, index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-5445-9

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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