ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL

The downcast eyes and grave expressions of the monumental figures in Fisher’s paintings set a tone that occasionally contradicts the text’s exuberance, e.g., Bell’s “joyous capacity for learning all there was to know about the universe grew as large as his waistline”—but this recap of the inventor’s character and accomplishments is engrossing reading and a grand tribute to an extraordinary imagination. Fisher provides detailed accounts of the inventions and incisive views of their significance; his pictures may lack the visual flash of those in Tom L. Matthews’s Always Inventing (see review, below), but they provide clear, straightforward detail. The lack of a bibliography is the only disappointment; Fisher finds plenty to admire in Bell, as will readers. (diagrams, chronology) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-689-81607-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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THE PUMPKIN BOOK

The Pumpkin Book (32 pp.; $16.95; Sept. 15; 0-8234-1465-5): From seed to vine and blossom to table, Gibbons traces the growth cycle of everyone’s favorite autumn symbol—the pumpkin. Meticulous drawings detail the transformation of tiny seeds to the colorful gourds that appear at roadside stands and stores in the fall. Directions for planting a pumpkin patch, carving a jack-o’-lantern, and drying the seeds give young gardeners the instructions they need to grow and enjoy their own golden globes. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 1999

ISBN: 0-8234-1465-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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SILVER RAIN BROWN

The hazy hot summer seems interminable for a young African-American boy and his pregnant mother. “Can’t cool down!” is the refrain that reverberates throughout the tale, and it’s literally true; lack of rain has put the city on a water conservation alert and the mother worries about all her flowers. Instead of despairing, mother and child surreptitiously water the plants using kitchen pots under the cloak of darkness; the theme of personal resilience and coping permeates the tale. A cooling, life-giving rain heralds the onset of the mother’s labor and the arrival of a new baby sister, Silver Rain Brown. The special bond between mother and son is readily apparent in Flavin’s full-page, full-color illustrations. As for the father, there is only one reference for readers to interpret: “Four a.m. and I can’t sleep, wishing Daddy would come back, wishing, wishing it would rain.” Helldorfer deftly captures the heavy oppressiveness of a summer heat wave, from children attempting to fry eggs on the sidewalk to short tempers and sleeping the hot days away, while Flavin’s illustrations artfully reflect the shimmering cityscapes. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-73093-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1999

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