An exciting tale in its own right, this biography should prime readers for the original.

READ REVIEW

MARY WHO WROTE FRANKENSTEIN

One of a cluster of books celebrating the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein.

This picture book focuses on Mary’s solitary childhood, in which she wanders alone through city streets, cultivating her daydreams, or “castles in the air,” which provided the initial inspiration for her novels. She is influenced by the writings of her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, whose grave she visits, and by her intellectual but severe father. She is introduced to the intelligentsia of London and hears Coleridge reciting The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a poem she will never forget. Stifled at home, Mary elopes with the poet Shelley; her stepsister Claire goes along. Their travels in Europe take them past Castle Frankenstein, the inspiration for Mary’s famous novel. One wild and stormy night, the three friends meet with the poet Byron and his writer friend John Polidori at Byron’s villa beside Lake Geneva. Byron makes his famous proposal that each should write a ghost story. This challenge and Mary’s introduction to science, particularly galvanism, are the inspirations for Mary’s famous monster. Bailey’s text features clipped, short sentences and presents carefully chosen details children will understand. Sardà’s watercolor-and-digital illustrations are dark and stormy and perfectly suited to the mood of the story. The many decorative details, reminiscent of 18th-century gravestone designs, will fascinate children, and the gaunt, Gorey-like, grave-pallid figures will send chills down the spine.

An exciting tale in its own right, this biography should prime readers for the original. (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77049-559-3

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Tundra

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Though this has more of a religious bent than most biographies, children should gain an understanding of the new pope as a...

JORGE FROM ARGENTINA

THE STORY OF POPE FRANCIS FOR CHILDREN

Beginning with the emigration of Jorge’s grandparents from Italy to Argentina, this biography traces Bergoglio’s life, concluding with his attendance at World Youth Day in July 2013, as Pope Francis.

This is a much more personal biography (meant for a slightly younger audience) than Pope Francis by Stephanie Watson (2013). Only briefly mentioning Argentina’s “Dirty War” and entirely leaving out the scandals of the Catholic Church and the more publicized examples of Bergoglio’s humility, Monge and Wolfe focus instead on the experiences that shaped Bergoglio’s faith and led him to the priesthood. The text’s lack of a bibliography may lead readers (or their parents) to wonder how the more intimate details of Bergoglio’s life were uncovered, especially with regard to the rather stilted and unnatural-sounding dialogue and internal monologues. Simple, short sentences make this accessible for young readers, though more contextual definitions (or a glossary) would have been helpful, especially for those unfamiliar with the Catholic faith. Also, commas that could help young readers with comprehension are frequently missing, and there are some awkward sentence constructions: “There was always studying or homework to do for school, or help needed around the house.” Kizlauskas’ illustrations are quite realistic looking (if stiff), though they do not always appear on the same spread as the text that accompanies them.

Though this has more of a religious bent than most biographies, children should gain an understanding of the new pope as a person. (Biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8198-4006-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Pauline Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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Scanty for a stand-alone guide but definitely a vocabulary enricher.

MICROBES

A playful introduction to bacteria, viruses, fungi, algae, archaea, and protozoa.

Readers are going to need a basic grounding in cytology from the start, as Gallagher drops such terms as “nucleus” and “organelles” into the discourse without defining them and rushes past plasmids without explaining what they are or do. Likewise, though she fits out all of the jelly-bean–like cells and microbes in her lighthearted illustrations with expressive faces—not to mention occasional limbs, fashion accessories, and hair—she rarely includes recognizable biological components. She’s not particularly systematic either, as she mentions four major components of the human immune system but goes on to describe only two. More usefully, along with frequent mentions of how ubiquitous microbes are, her main focus seems to be laying out microbial types and subtypes, from the five shape-related groups of bacteria to the even more ancient archaea (Crenarchaeota, Euryarchaeota, and Korarchaeota), and describing their individual distinctions and how they reproduce. Polysyllabic as some of this content is, the breezy presentation should impart to general students, as well as budding microbiologists, a nodding acquaintance with our single-celled neighbors and residents.

Scanty for a stand-alone guide but definitely a vocabulary enricher. (glossary) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63411-009-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thunderstone Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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