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Celebrates young people’s ingenuity; will inspire and delight reluctant and avid readers alike.

A captivating exploration of the ingenuity of young people who defied norms and persevered to see their inventions through.

The book profiles kids ranging in ages from 6 to 16, detailing the challenges they faced and their paths to delivering breakthrough inventions or developing and improving on existing ones. The book is divided into five sections covering inventions that solve daily problems, assist others, advance technology, help the environment, or are just for fun. Readers will encounter famous names like Benjamin Franklin (who invented swim fins at age 11), Louis Braille (who developed the Braille alphabet when he was 15), and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (who at 13 created an adder/subtractor). Pew also features lesser-known young inventors, including Remya Jose from India, who invented a pedal-powered washing machine in 2003, when she was 14, and Guatemalan boy Ken Lou Castillo, who, seeking a solution to both deforestation and his own smoke allergies, created eco-friendly and hypoallergenic fire logs he named Mr. Fuego when he was 9. The book, which highlights a broadly diverse group of subjects, also includes sidebars with additional context and inspirational quotes. Brief informational sections interspersed between the profiles explain patents, trademarks, and prototypes; introduce types of STEM communities young people can join; and list concrete steps on the path to becoming an inventor. Wright’s cheerful illustrations add touches of fun.

Celebrates young people’s ingenuity; will inspire and delight reluctant and avid readers alike. (glossary, sources) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 23, 2024

ISBN: 9781250836021

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both.

Flash, Batman, and other characters from the DC Comics universe tackle supervillains and STEM-related topics and sometimes, both.

Credited to 20 writers and illustrators in various combinations, the 10 episodes invite readers to tag along as Mera and Aquaman visit oceanic zones from epipelagic to hadalpelagic; Supergirl helps a young scholar pick a science-project topic by taking her on a tour of the solar system; and Swamp Thing lends Poison Ivy a hand to describe how DNA works (later joining Swamp Kid to scuttle a climate-altering scheme by Arcane). In other episodes, various costumed creations explain the ins and outs of diverse large- and small-scale phenomena, including electricity, atomic structure, forensic techniques, 3-D printing, and the lactate threshold. Presumably on the supposition that the characters will be more familiar to readers than the science, the minilectures tend to start from simple basics, but the figures are mostly both redrawn to look more childlike than in the comics and identified only in passing. Drawing styles and page designs differ from chapter to chapter but not enough to interrupt overall visual unity and flow—and the cast is sufficiently diverse to include roles for superheroes (and villains) of color like Cyborg, Kid Flash, and the Latina Green Lantern, Jessica Cruz. Appended lists of websites and science-based YouTube channels, plus instructions for homespun activities related to each episode, point inspired STEM-winders toward further discoveries.

Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both. (Graphic nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77950-382-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care.

In 1977, the oil carrier Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into a formerly pristine Alaskan ocean inlet, killing millions of birds, animals, and fish. Despite a cleanup, crude oil is still there.

The Winters foretold the destructive powers of the atomic bomb allusively in The Secret Project (2017), leaving the actuality to the backmatter. They make no such accommodations to young audiences in this disturbing book. From the dark front cover, on which oily blobs conceal a seabird, to the rescuer’s sad face on the back, the mother-son team emphasizes the disaster. A relatively easy-to-read and poetically heightened text introduces the situation. Oil is pumped from the Earth “all day long, all night long, / day after day, year after year” in “what had been unspoiled land, home to Native people // and thousands of caribou.” The scale of extraction is huge: There’s “a giant pipeline” leading to “enormous ships.” Then, crash. Rivers of oil gush out over three full-bleed wordless pages. Subsequent scenes show rocks, seabirds, and sea otters covered with oil. Finally, 30 years later, animals have returned to a cheerful scene. “But if you lift a rock… // oil / seeps / up.” For an adult reader, this is heartbreaking. How much more difficult might this be for an animal-loving child?

Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3077-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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