ALFRED NOBEL

THE MAN BEHIND THE PEACE PRIZE

A picture-book biography of the inventor of dynamite and creator of the Nobel Prizes fills a niche but oversimplifies somewhat in so doing. From his discovery that the volatility of nitroglycerin might be harnessed for use to the reading of the will in which he established the famous prizes, the brief account sketches in the basic details of Nobel’s adult life: his fondness for reading and writing, his tinkering with explosives, the factory blast that killed his brother Emil and four others and the premature obituary he read when his brother Ludvig’s death was misreported as his own. Throughout, Wargin depicts a melancholy but committed pacifist who hoped “his inventions would prevent war.” Pullen’s full-bleed paintings are at their best in Nobel’s workshop, their subject intent on the chemical task at hand. While the brevity of the narrative is appropriate for the audience, for whom little else on the subject is available, it glosses over the fact that he manufactured armaments as well as tools for mining and manufacturing—an unfortunate elision. (list of Nobel Peace Prize winners) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-58536-281-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2009

REACHING FOR THE MOON

In first-person voice, Aldrin highlights points from his childhood that led to his dream of being an astronaut and making the historic moon landing. Coincidental details like his mother’s maiden name, “Moon,” and his favorite movie hero, the “Lone Ranger,” suggest clues to his destiny. After West Point, he joined the Air Force because “he wanted to fly more than anything.” Minor’s usual beautiful and realistic illustrations effectively convey spatial perspectives and movement, adding depth to the narrative. However, the cover design and type layout are confusing, indicative of a biography instead of an autobiography—a brief intro could have clarified it. Aldrin’s message in an author’s note avows, “If you set your sights high, you may accomplish more than you ever dreamed.” Pair this with Don Brown’s One Giant Step for a child’s-eye view on space exploration. (Flight/space exploration chronology) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-055445-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2005

BUTT OR FACE?

A gleeful game for budding naturalists.

Artfully cropped animal portraits challenge viewers to guess which end they’re seeing.

In what will be a crowd-pleasing and inevitably raucous guessing game, a series of close-up stock photos invite children to call out one of the titular alternatives. A page turn reveals answers and basic facts about each creature backed up by more of the latter in a closing map and table. Some of the posers, like the tail of an okapi or the nose on a proboscis monkey, are easy enough to guess—but the moist nose on a star-nosed mole really does look like an anus, and the false “eyes” on the hind ends of a Cuyaba dwarf frog and a Promethea moth caterpillar will fool many. Better yet, Lavelle saves a kicker for the finale with a glimpse of a small parasitical pearlfish peeking out of a sea cucumber’s rear so that the answer is actually face and butt. “Animal identification can be tricky!” she concludes, noting that many of the features here function as defenses against attack: “In the animal world, sometimes your butt will save your face and your face just might save your butt!” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gleeful game for budding naturalists. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781728271170

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023

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