Scientific genius is a superpower of its own and does not need this pandering treatment.

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MARIE CURIE AND THE POWER OF PERSISTENCE

From the My Super Science Heroes series

Marie Curie was a superhero!

This first entry in the My Super Science Heroes series of highly fictionalized biographies details Curie’s brilliant achievements but pits her against a cartoonish archenemy determined to stop her. Super Evil Nemesis aims at world domination by halting the spread of knowledge. He sends his minion, Mr. Opposition, to thwart young Maria Skłodowska. Try as he might, Mr. O fails. Maria excels at her studies; after high school, since universities are closed to women, she pursues her lessons secretly. Moving to Paris, she adopts the name Marie and earns degrees in physics and math. After Marie marries Pierre Curie, the two collaborate, winning the Nobel Prize in physics in 1903 with Henri Becquerel. In 1911, Marie wins another Nobel—for chemistry. This is a fact-filled, admiring examination. Unfortunately, however, her casting as a superheroine against a comic-book stock villain trivializes her. Not helping is the author’s breathless, demeaning remark that “She even loves mathematics and physics!” to demonstrate Curie’s youthful studiousness. Colorful and child-appealing, though static, illustrations feature humans resembling wide-eyed, pink-cheeked marionettes (all present white). Nemesis is a blue, sharp-toothed figure with striped horns and a crown; Mr. O is a red, four-legged, spiny-backed, counterintuitively cute creature sporting a fedora. Numerous “ALERT!” sidebars, a glossary, and a timeline bolster the factual load.

Scientific genius is a superpower of its own and does not need this pandering treatment. (websites) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1356-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Utterly charming, and informative, to boot; readers brought up on a diet of rhymes, bright colors and adorable fluffy...

OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW

A young child enjoying a full day of cross-country skiing narrates this gentle tale, explaining both her own activities and what the animals are doing.

“Over the snow I glide, past beech trees rattling leftover leaves and strong, silent pines that stretch to the sky. On a high branch, a great horned owl keeps watch. Under the snow, a tiny shrew dodges columns of ice; it follows a cool tunnel along the moss, out of sight.” A deer, bullfrogs, beavers, a fox, mice, chipmunks, a bear and a bumblebee are among the other animal inhabitants of the “secret kingdom” under the snow; some are snoozing, some foraging and some hunting for the others. Backmatter includes an author’s note, a paragraph of information about each featured animal and a list for further reading. Neal’s two-dimensional mixed-media illustrations are minimal in both detail and color. Simple outlines give shape to the trees, animals and leaves, while white is the predominant color. The lyrical descriptions of the text and the gray/brown/ice-blue palette of the illustrations leave readers with a retro feel that harkens back to earlier days of children’s books and bygone times when life seemed simpler.

Utterly charming, and informative, to boot; readers brought up on a diet of rhymes, bright colors and adorable fluffy animals will find its simple beauty a balm. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8118-6784-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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