SIMONE VISITS THE MUSEUM

A wordy but useful introduction to a popular Washington museum that has an engaging heroine.

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A young girl has fun exploring the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in this illustrated children's book.

Simone is thrilled when her mother decides to take her to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C, where she lives. Before they leave home, her mother asks if she remembers how to behave in a museum, and she answers quickly and correctly: “Stay near you at all times, lower my voice when speaking, greet the workers, and keep my hands to myself.” After taking a Metrobus to their destination, Simone marvels at the large size of the museum and learns that it celebrates “the resilience and strength of African Americans.” When her mother explains that “families were separated during slavery,” however, Simone misses her father and her brother, Scott, both of whom stayed home, so after she and her mother enjoy an outdoor lunch at a cafe, they join their male family members at Anacostia Park and talk about the day. At times, the book relies too much on telling instead of showing: It asserts, for example, that the museum honors the “resilience” of African Americans without showing an exhibit or giving examples that would have enabled its youthful readers to see what that word means (especially if they’re too young to know what “resilience” is). The text also needlessly mentions some details shown repeatedly via the illustrations (as when Simone speaks of “my red sneakers and leggings”). Still, Marie’s colorful illustrations are nicely detailed, enhancing the adventures of family members who have skin tones in varied shades of brown, and they depict not just the museum, but spots such as the National Mall and the Anacostia River. As for the museum itself, as Simone observes, it’s “huuuuugggggge!” This book, by the author of Geoengineering: Governance and Technology (2013), would no doubt make a first visit more enjoyable and less intimidating for many children.

A wordy but useful introduction to a popular Washington museum that has an engaging heroine.

Pub Date: April 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9995685-0-7

Page Count: 38

Publisher: Mayhew

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2020

THE SHOW MUST GO ON!

From the Three-Ring Rascals series , Vol. 1

Most children will agree the book is “smafunderful (smart + fun + wonderful).” (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-10)

In this entertaining chapter book, the first in a series, readers meet kind Sir Sidney and the gentle performers and hands in his circus. But Sir Sidney is tired and leaves the circus under the management of new-hire Barnabas Brambles for a week.

That Sir Sidney is beloved by all is quickly established, presenting a sharp contrast to the bully Brambles. The scoundrel immediately comes up with a “to do” list that includes selling the animals and eliminating the mice Bert and Gert. (Gert is almost more distressed by Brambles’ ill-fitting suit and vows to tailor it.) Revealed almost entirely through dialogue, the put-upon animals’ solidarity is endearing. The story, like the circus train now driven by the Famous Flying Banana Brothers, takes absurd loops and turns. The art is fully integrated, illustrating the action and supplementing the text with speech bubbles, facsimile letters and posters, Brambles’ profit-and-loss notes, examples of Gert’s invented vocabulary and more. Brambles’ plans go awry, of course, and he gets his comeuppance. With Bert and Gert acting as his conscience, along with a suit from Gert that finally fits and a dose of forgiveness, Brambles makes a turnaround. Sensitive children may doubt Sir Sidney’s wisdom in leaving his animals with an unscrupulous man, and the closing message is a tad didactic, but that doesn’t blunt the fun too much.

Most children will agree the book is “smafunderful (smart + fun + wonderful).” (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-61620-244-6

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

LITTLE DAYMOND LEARNS TO EARN

It’s hard to argue with success, but guides that actually do the math will be more useful to budding capitalists.

How to raise money for a coveted poster: put your friends to work!

John, founder of the FUBU fashion line and a Shark Tank venture capitalist, offers a self-referential blueprint for financial success. Having only half of the $10 he needs for a Minka J poster, Daymond forks over $1 to buy a plain T-shirt, paints a picture of the pop star on it, sells it for $5, and uses all of his cash to buy nine more shirts. Then he recruits three friends to decorate them with his design and help sell them for an unspecified amount (from a conveniently free and empty street-fair booth) until they’re gone. The enterprising entrepreneur reimburses himself for the shirts and splits the remaining proceeds, which leaves him with enough for that poster as well as a “brand-new business book,” while his friends express other fiscal strategies: saving their share, spending it all on new art supplies, or donating part and buying a (math) book with the rest. (In a closing summation, the author also suggests investing in stocks, bonds, or cryptocurrency.) Though Miles cranks up the visual energy in her sparsely detailed illustrations by incorporating bright colors and lots of greenbacks, the actual advice feels a bit vague. Daymond is Black; most of the cast are people of color. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

It’s hard to argue with success, but guides that actually do the math will be more useful to budding capitalists. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-56727-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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