THE SINGER AND THE SCIENTIST

Well-known historical figures from wildly different disciplines have a surprising connection.

In 1937 New Jersey, Marian Anderson sings to a White audience in a huge theatre, but the minute the curtain is down, she’s no longer a star. She’s a Black woman who is invisible to most and persona non grata to others—especially nearby hotels. Without a place to stay for the night, she’s on her own, until someone from the front row of the audience approaches her and invites her to stay in his guest room. The man is Albert Einstein, and he knows all too well what it’s like to be treated as less than human in one’s own country, ever since he fled Germany soon after Hitler’s rise to power. The two get along and talk music, and Albert is glad to pull out his violin and play for her. The evening portrayed in this picture book is the start of what would presumably go on to be a lifelong friendship between people known for their professional achievements who were uncomfortable in the spotlight as activists but did their work quietly. Muñoz’s illustrations are inviting, buoyant, and colorful, and the text does not oversimplify the racism Anderson endures. Though the afterword gives quick details on both figures’ lives more generally, it does not cite or give context to their relationship beyond telling readers that the incident is “not well known”—a disappointment. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 61.4% of actual size.)

A charming anecdote. (Informational picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5415-7609-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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