It’s a bit sketchy of historical detail, but it’s coherent, inspirational, and engaging without indulging in rapturous...

ROSA PARKS

From the Little People, BIG DREAMS series

A first introduction to the iconic civil rights activist.

“She was very little and very brave, and she always tried to do what was right.” Without many names or any dates, Kaiser traces Parks’ life and career from childhood to later fights for “fair schools, jobs, and houses for black people” as well as “voting rights, women’s rights and the rights of people in prison.” Though her refusal to change seats and the ensuing bus boycott are misleadingly presented as spontaneous acts of protest, young readers will come away with a clear picture of her worth as a role model. Though recognizable thanks to the large wire-rimmed glasses Parks sports from the outset as she marches confidently through Antelo’s stylized illustrations, she looks childlike throughout (as characteristic of this series), and her skin is unrealistically darkened to match the most common shade visible on other African-American figures. In her co-published Emmeline Pankhurst (illustrated by Ana Sanfelippo), Kaiser likewise simplistically implies that Great Britain led the way in granting universal women’s suffrage but highlights her subject’s courageous quest for justice, and Isabel Sánchez Vegara caps her profile of Audrey Hepburn (illustrated by Amaia Arrazola) with the moot but laudable claim that “helping people across the globe” (all of whom in the pictures are dark-skinned children) made Hepburn “happier than acting or dancing ever had.” All three titles end with photographs and timelines over more-detailed recaps plus at least one lead to further information.

It’s a bit sketchy of historical detail, but it’s coherent, inspirational, and engaging without indulging in rapturous flights of hyperbole. (Picture book/biography. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-78603-018-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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An inspiring book about an influential scientist and the allure of the stars. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

ALWAYS LOOKING UP

NANCY GRACE ROMAN, ASTRONOMER

This biography for children tells the story of the astronomer who spearheaded the Hubble Space Telescope project.

When Nancy Grace Roman (1925–2018) was young, she loved the night sky, which was always the same, no matter where her father’s job took the family. She formed a school astronomy club and learned more about constellations, meteors, and planets. In high school, she “asked questions her physics teacher could not answer” and took an extra algebra class. Roman’s college professors tried to discourage her, as a woman, from studying science and math, but she excelled in her studies, continuing on to graduate school and becoming an astronomer. She observed stars, worked with radio telescopes, and gave astronomy lectures. Roman then joined the newly created NASA in 1959 as the first chief of astronomy, eventually becoming director of the Astronomical Data Center. Realizing that astronomers needed a telescope in space that wouldn’t be blocked by our atmosphere, Roman led a team of scientists on the Hubble Space Telescope project, testifying successfully before Congress on the need for funding. The Hubble, when finally built (and repaired in space), gave crystal-clear images of astronomical objects, earning Roman a nickname: the “Mother of Hubble.” An author’s note about Roman and a timeline of her life are included. Gehl (Baby Botanist, 2019, etc.), a prolific writer for children, explains the facts of Roman’s life in a compelling way. Information from the timeline, such as when Roman was born and what degrees she earned, could have been better integrated into the story for more context. However, Gehl clearly conveys her subject’s childhood excitement about the cosmos and her determination, “as fiery as a supernova,” to learn more and fire up others. The story of the Hubble itself is also well told, with marvelous descriptions accompanied by illustrations: “comets hurtling into Jupiter; dust storms on Mars; nebulae shaped like a butterfly, a crab, a tarantula.” The very appealing, nicely detailed images by Pigott (El Tucán y La Tortuga, 2019, etc.) and debut illustrator Oxton capture Roman’s character, as well as the magic of the night sky.

An inspiring book about an influential scientist and the allure of the stars. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-0296-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2019

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A perfunctory effort.

AGE OF THE DINOSAURS

From the Curious Kids series

A select set of pop-up prehistoric portraits, with bite-sized facts for dedicated dinophiles.

In contrast to previous Curious Kids outing Explore the Meadow (2020), this gallery has a slapdash air. Including a less-than-melodramatic opening tableau that features a sauropod who looks almost comically resigned to becoming a theropod’s next meal, five of the eight central pop-ups are just static portraits that hover over stylized prehistoric backdrops. Of the other three, one offers a face-on T. rex with a comically tiny (but toothy) mouth and another, a giant meteorite that actually rises as the spread opens. The fact bits scattered at random are occasionally mind-blowing (“Stegosaurus and Tyrannosaurus lived further apart in time than Tyrannosaurus and humankind”) but more often run to obvious truisms, misstatements (no, Diplodocus was not conclusively the longest dino), or outright non sequiturs: “Some were FEROCIOUS! Others were TALL.” Some of the real-world comparisons do not provide sufficient context: “Even a pig would have been able to run past [Ankylosaurus] with ease”—but how fast does a pig run? Moreover, all but one of the dinosaurs posing on the first and last spreads go unidentified, and Marx also manages to leave birds out of his closing list of dinosaur-age survivals. It’s a shame given the child-attracting combination of topic and format. Companion title Stars and Space publishes simultaneously.

A perfunctory effort. (Informational pop-up book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68010-653-4

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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