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From the From an Idea to series

An engaging but unduly lopsided history for budding tech entrepreneurs.

An illustrated narrative of Google’s growth from a doctoral thesis topic to a tech giant; the latest in a series of nonfiction business books for children.

Sichol (From an Idea to Disney, 2019, etc.) starts with the early experiences of the founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, both gifted children growing up in intellectual families who encouraged their interest in computers. She recounts their odd-couple meeting at Stanford University, their eventual partnership to create a search engine, and their persistence through initial setbacks. From there, it’s a breezy journey through raising initial funding; turning a profit from ads; growing the business through hiring, innovation, and acquisition; and, finally, restructuring. Business terms such as “invest” and “acquire” are defined in brief callouts, with several pages devoted to “going public.” Jennings’ cartoons add to the approachability of the text, which is sprinkled with quotations and fun facts, including an entertaining look at what it’s like to work at the Googleplex. However, the author’s lionizing account sidesteps the recent controversies around tax avoidance, antitrust laws, consumer privacy, censorship, racial diversity, and treatment of women employees. It also skims over the roles that extraordinary women such as Susan Wojcicki and Marissa Meyer played in Google’s success while ignoring many others, reinforcing the stereotype of “brilliant men with big ideas”; “Larry and Sergey” are both white.

An engaging but unduly lopsided history for budding tech entrepreneurs. (timeline, sample interview questions, source notes, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-95491-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both.

Flash, Batman, and other characters from the DC Comics universe tackle supervillains and STEM-related topics and sometimes, both.

Credited to 20 writers and illustrators in various combinations, the 10 episodes invite readers to tag along as Mera and Aquaman visit oceanic zones from epipelagic to hadalpelagic; Supergirl helps a young scholar pick a science-project topic by taking her on a tour of the solar system; and Swamp Thing lends Poison Ivy a hand to describe how DNA works (later joining Swamp Kid to scuttle a climate-altering scheme by Arcane). In other episodes, various costumed creations explain the ins and outs of diverse large- and small-scale phenomena, including electricity, atomic structure, forensic techniques, 3-D printing, and the lactate threshold. Presumably on the supposition that the characters will be more familiar to readers than the science, the minilectures tend to start from simple basics, but the figures are mostly both redrawn to look more childlike than in the comics and identified only in passing. Drawing styles and page designs differ from chapter to chapter but not enough to interrupt overall visual unity and flow—and the cast is sufficiently diverse to include roles for superheroes (and villains) of color like Cyborg, Kid Flash, and the Latina Green Lantern, Jessica Cruz. Appended lists of websites and science-based YouTube channels, plus instructions for homespun activities related to each episode, point inspired STEM-winders toward further discoveries.

Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both. (Graphic nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77950-382-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care.

In 1977, the oil carrier Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into a formerly pristine Alaskan ocean inlet, killing millions of birds, animals, and fish. Despite a cleanup, crude oil is still there.

The Winters foretold the destructive powers of the atomic bomb allusively in The Secret Project (2017), leaving the actuality to the backmatter. They make no such accommodations to young audiences in this disturbing book. From the dark front cover, on which oily blobs conceal a seabird, to the rescuer’s sad face on the back, the mother-son team emphasizes the disaster. A relatively easy-to-read and poetically heightened text introduces the situation. Oil is pumped from the Earth “all day long, all night long, / day after day, year after year” in “what had been unspoiled land, home to Native people // and thousands of caribou.” The scale of extraction is huge: There’s “a giant pipeline” leading to “enormous ships.” Then, crash. Rivers of oil gush out over three full-bleed wordless pages. Subsequent scenes show rocks, seabirds, and sea otters covered with oil. Finally, 30 years later, animals have returned to a cheerful scene. “But if you lift a rock… // oil / seeps / up.” For an adult reader, this is heartbreaking. How much more difficult might this be for an animal-loving child?

Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3077-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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