A luminous thematic pairing.

THE FIRE OF STARS

THE LIFE AND BRILLIANCE OF THE WOMAN WHO DISCOVERED WHAT STARS ARE MADE OF

In parallel plotlines, two stars are born—one to flare in space and another sort on Earth to shed light on how.

In celestial deeps, illustrator Roy portrays dust and dirt gradually coalescing into a cloud that whirls ever more violently and at last ignites. Meanwhile, in side-by-side foreground scenes, a British child who thrills at the “lightning bolt of discovery” attendant on close observations of the natural world around her persistently chases that love through schools that discourage girls and women from such pursuits…all the way to the Harvard College Observatory. There she finds not only kindred female spirits, but also astronomical evidence leading to a blinding flash of insight about what stars are made of and in what proportions. Along with adding more detail about both the stellar career of Cecilia Payne, 25 years old when she made her revolutionary discovery in 1925, and about star formation in an afterword, Larson makes explicit her message to readers who burn to find out and to understand. “Cecilia proved not only what makes a star but also what makes a star scientist: curiosity, passion, hard work, and belief in oneself.” The swirling, whirling vortex cuts a dramatic figure in Roy’s glimmering starscapes; in the overset panels, Payne and her fellow students and associates, all White presenting, are drawn with sketchy grace in period dress and settings. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A luminous thematic pairing. (timeline) (Picture-book biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7287-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal.

JUST LIKE JESSE OWENS

Before growing up to become a major figure in the civil rights movement, a boy finds a role model.

Buffing up a childhood tale told by her renowned father, Young Shelton describes how young Andrew saw scary men marching in his New Orleans neighborhood (“It sounded like they were yelling ‘Hi, Hitler!’ ”). In response to his questions, his father took him to see a newsreel of Jesse Owens (“a runner who looked like me”) triumphing in the 1936 Olympics. “Racism is a sickness,” his father tells him. “We’ve got to help folks like that.” How? “Well, you can start by just being the best person you can be,” his father replies. “It’s what you do that counts.” In James’ hazy chalk pastels, Andrew joins racially diverse playmates (including a White child with an Irish accent proudly displaying the nickel he got from his aunt as a bribe to stop playing with “those Colored boys”) in tag and other games, playing catch with his dad, sitting in the midst of a cheering crowd in the local theater’s segregated balcony, and finally visualizing himself pelting down a track alongside his new hero—“head up, back straight, eyes focused,” as a thematically repeated line has it, on the finish line. An afterword by Young Shelton explains that she retold this story, told to her many times growing up, drawing from conversations with Young and from her own research; family photos are also included. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal. (illustrator’s note) (Autobiographical picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-545-55465-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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Tantalizing glimpses of hidden natural treasures, with breathtaking art.

CAVES

An invitation to share some of the world’s speleological wonders.

Lit by the flashlights of small visitors, huge, rugged, shadowy spaces beckon in Chock’s powerfully atmospheric illustrations as Beckerman’s accompanying mix of free-verse commentary and blocks of explanations in smaller type turn general impressions into specific sites and sights. Among the latter are the dazzling tangle of giant selenite crystals in Mexico’s Cueva de los Cristales, ancient cave paintings at Lascaux in France, an immense underwater cave system in Florida, and (for truly courageous adventurers) the “silently squirming ceiling” of glowworms in New Zealand’s Waitomo Caves. The author also pays particular tribute to the group of women who ventured into the constricted reaches (judged too narrow for men) of South Africa’s Rising Star cave system to uncover fossils of a new prehistoric cousin, Homo naledi. All around the world caves are waiting “for / wondering, / wandering / explorers / like you,” she concludes. “Do you dare?” For those who might, the book closes with lists of safety rules and recommended caving gear. Tiny spelunkers in the art are nearly all bundled up and facing away from viewers, but some at least are plainly children, and an observation that the floors of some lava tubes in Australia are flat enough for wheelchairs makes Beckerman’s invitation even more inclusive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Tantalizing glimpses of hidden natural treasures, with breathtaking art. (cave facts, author’s and illustrator’s notes, photos) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-72662-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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