A sturdy portrayal of Victorian scientist Mary Anning that showcases her accomplishments, intelligence, and perseverance.

DINOSAUR LADY

A new picture-book biography of the pioneering scientist and finder of bones.

Armed with both a hammer and chisel and a spirit of inquiry, young Mary Anning searched the beach and cliffs of Lyme Regis, England, eventually unearthing the bones of an enormous, heretofore-unknown creature. Action-filled illustrations and straightforward text allow Anning’s determination to shine through and show how her knowledge as well as the fossils she found were initially dismissed because of the sexism of the time yet nevertheless led to the study of fossils, the invention of paleontology, the understanding that animals could become extinct, and the discovery of dinosaurs. Though her financial struggles as a white woman of the time are made evident, portions of her story, including the facts that she was struck by lightning as a baby and that her father died when she was around 11, go unmentioned before the informative backmatter, which seems a lost opportunity. Readers likely to ask questions—her age when she made various discoveries, why she began searching the cliffs, the specific time period in which she lived—will have to wait for the timeline and author’s note. (An additional spread offers a smattering of paleontology facts.) Still, Anning is clearly a worthy subject, and this tale of her accomplishments is sure to elicit excitement and curiosity.

A sturdy portrayal of Victorian scientist Mary Anning that showcases her accomplishments, intelligence, and perseverance. (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: July 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-0951-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era.

I AM RUBY BRIDGES

The New Orleans school child who famously broke the color line in 1960 while surrounded by federal marshals describes the early days of her experience from a 6-year-old’s perspective.

Bridges told her tale to younger children in 2009’s Ruby Bridges Goes to School, but here the sensibility is more personal, and the sometimes-shocking historical photos have been replaced by uplifting painted scenes. “I didn’t find out what being ‘the first’ really meant until the day I arrived at this new school,” she writes. Unfrightened by the crowd of “screaming white people” that greets her at the school’s door (she thinks it’s like Mardi Gras) but surprised to find herself the only child in her classroom, and even the entire building, she gradually realizes the significance of her act as (in Smith’s illustration) she compares a small personal photo to the all-White class photos posted on a bulletin board and sees the difference. As she reflects on her new understanding, symbolic scenes first depict other dark-skinned children marching into classes in her wake to friendly greetings from lighter-skinned classmates (“School is just school,” she sensibly concludes, “and kids are just kids”) and finally an image of the bright-eyed icon posed next to a soaring bridge of reconciliation. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era. (author and illustrator notes, glossary) (Autobiographical picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-75388-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

BASKETBALL DREAMS

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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