Scientific investigation meets magic in this glowing selection.

ETTY DARWIN AND THE FOUR PEBBLE PROBLEM

A flight of scientific fancy.

As the daughter of world-renowned scientist Charles Darwin, young Henrietta “Etty” Darwin learned to question the world around her even as she wrote fairy stories on the backs of his manuscripts. This distinctive selection, presented in a modified graphic-panel format, shows the daughter and father (and their dog) as they embark on a “thinking path” called The Sandwalk—a well-trod trail that Darwin and his family wandered while pondering ideas—and the two have a discussion (imagined by the author) about the existence of fairies and the problem of evidence. Dialogue bubbles furnish the questions and answers while poetic, descriptive narrative sentences provide just the right amount of context, and together they offer up a pair of believable, inquisitive characters, warm and sweet without the faintest whiff of sentimentality. Lush, layered illustrations give a sense of the Victorian era while they capture a realistic natural landscape with forays into fantasy, Etty always at its center; a spread featuring yellow butterflies is particularly dazzling. Etty’s heavy brows and quizzical expressions show a girl unconcerned with looking pretty, deep in thought and an intrinsic part of the flora and fauna that surround both her father and herself. The two White characters are joined by Polly the dog, a detail sure to appeal. An excellent introduction to the natural sciences, Darwin, fairies, and inquiry, sure to inspire and fascinate young readers and listeners. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 55.9% of actual size.)

Scientific investigation meets magic in this glowing selection. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6608-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way.

NOAH CHASES THE WIND

A young boy sees things a little differently than others.

Noah can see patterns in the dust when it sparkles in the sunlight. And if he puts his nose to the ground, he can smell the “green tang of the ants in the grass.” His most favorite thing of all, however, is to read. Noah has endless curiosity about how and why things work. Books open the door to those answers. But there is one question the books do not explain. When the wind comes whistling by, where does it go? Noah decides to find out. In a chase that has a slight element of danger—wind, after all, is unpredictable—Noah runs down streets, across bridges, near a highway, until the wind lifts him off his feet. Cowman’s gusty wisps show each stream of air turning a different jewel tone, swirling all around. The ribbons gently bring Noah home, setting him down under the same thinking tree where he began. Did it really happen? Worthington’s sensitive exploration leaves readers with their own set of questions and perhaps gratitude for all types of perspective. An author’s note mentions children on the autism spectrum but widens to include all who feel a little different.

An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60554-356-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Redleaf Lane

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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Outstanding—a breath of fresh air, just like Rocket herself.

ROCKET SAYS LOOK UP!

Rocket is on a mission…to get her angst-y teen brother to put down his cellphone and look up.

An aspiring astronaut, Rocket makes it a point to set up her telescope and gaze at the stars every night before bedtime. Inspired by Mae Jemison, Rocket, a supercute black girl with braids and a coiffed Afro, hopes to be “the greatest astronaut, star catcher, and space walker who has ever lived.” As the night of the Phoenix meteor shower approaches, Rocket makes fliers inviting everyone in her neighborhood to see the cosmic event at the park. Over the course of her preparations, she shares information about space-shuttle missions, what causes a meteor shower, and when is the best time to see one. Jamal, Rocket’s insufferable older brother, who sports a high-top fade and a hoodie, is completely engrossed in his phone, even as just about everybody in the neighborhood turns up. The bright, digital illustrations are an exuberant celebration of both space and black culture that will simultaneously inspire and ground readers. That the main characters are unapologetically black is made plain through myriad details. Rocket’s mother is depicted cornrowing her daughter’s hair with a wide-toothed comb and hair oil. Gap-toothed Rocket, meanwhile, makes her enthusiasm for space clear in the orange jumpsuit both she and her cat wear—and even Jamal’s excited by the end.

Outstanding—a breath of fresh air, just like Rocket herself. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9442-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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