An exciting, informative introduction to medical research, the work of Jonas Salk, and the man himself.

THE POLIO PIONEER

Portrait of a hero, scientist, and dreamer.

As a child, Jonas Salk saw things from a unique perspective. While his friends played games, he preferred to read but was called to act as a referee because of his awareness and evenhandedness. While others rejoiced at the end of World War I, he saw the soldiers who had sustained injuries. Growing up as an observant Jew whose family had fled Russian persecution, “Jonas prayed that he might, someday, help make the world a better place.” Appealing illustrations and accessible text show how Salk, as an adult, pursued the same ideals through his work as a doctor and researcher, eventually working as a young researcher to help create the first flu vaccine and later, famously, the polio vaccine. This timely, quickly paced selection is straightforward, showing the value of research, experimentation, hard work, and testing while presenting Salk’s dedication and accomplishments within the context of the epidemics he sought to control. Though the text skimps a bit on the role of trial and error in experimentation, this tale of a quiet hero is engaging and enlightening as it celebrates Salk’s accomplishments while showcasing the attributes and attitudes that led to his success.

An exciting, informative introduction to medical research, the work of Jonas Salk, and the man himself. (author’s note) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-64651-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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A lovely encouragement to young writers to persist.

HOW TO WRITE A STORY

This follow-up to How To Read a Story (2005) shows a child going through the steps of creating a story, from choosing an idea through sharing with friends.

A young black child lies in a grassy field writing in a journal, working on “Step 1 / Search for an Idea— / a shiny one.” During a walk to the library, various ideas float in colorful thought bubbles, with exclamation points: “playing soccer! / dogs!” Inside the library, less-distinct ideas, expressed as shapes and pictures, with question marks, float about as the writer collects ideas to choose from. The young writer must then choose a setting, a main character, and a problem for that protagonist. Plotting, writing with detail, and revising are described in child-friendly terms and shown visually, in the form of lists and notes on faux pieces of paper. Finally, the writer sits in the same field, in a new season, sharing the story with friends. The illustrations feature the child’s writing and drawing as well as images of imagined events from the book in progress bursting off the page. The child’s main character is an adventurous mermaid who looks just like the child, complete with afro-puff pigtails, representing an affirming message about writing oneself into the world. The child’s family, depicted as black, moves in the background of the setting, which is also populated by a multiracial cast.

A lovely encouragement to young writers to persist. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-5666-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans.

EVERYTHING AWESOME ABOUT SHARKS AND OTHER UNDERWATER CREATURES!

In the wake of Everything Awesome About Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Beasts! (2019), Lowery spins out likewise frothy arrays of facts and observations about sharks, whales, giant squid, and smaller but no less extreme (or at least extremely interesting) sea life.

He provides plenty of value-added features, from overviews of oceanic zones and environments to jokes, drawing instructions, and portrait galleries suitable for copying or review. While not one to pass up any opportunity to, for instance, characterize ambergris as “whale vomit perfume” or the clownfish’s protective coating as “snot armor,” he also systematically introduces members of each of the eight orders of sharks, devotes most of a page to the shark’s electroreceptive ampullae of Lorenzini, and even sheds light on the unobvious differences between jellyfish and the Portuguese man-of-war or the reason why the blue octopus is said to have “arms” rather than “tentacles.” He also argues persuasively that sharks have gotten a bad rap (claiming that more people are killed each year by…vending machines) and closes with pleas to be concerned about plastic waste, to get involved in conservation efforts, and (cannily) to get out and explore our planet because (quoting Jacques-Yves Cousteau) “People protect what they love.” Human figures, some with brown skin, pop up occasionally to comment in the saturated color illustrations. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 45% of actual size.)

An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans. (bibliography, list of organizations) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35973-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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