A personable and energetic introduction with a positive message.

THE BOY WHO THOUGHT OUTSIDE THE BOX

THE STORY OF VIDEO GAME INVENTOR RALPH BAER

From the People Who Shaped Our World series

Jewish inventor Ralph Baer never stopped pursuing his passion for learning, tinkering, and building, whether to solve problems, advance technology, or find new ways to spread fun.

Beginning with his childhood in Nazi-era Cologne, Germany, this biography follows Baer’s journey to becoming the “Father of Video Games.” Throughout his life, new problems and puzzles pushed him to seek solutions. He helped his family immigrate to the United States in 1938 and rebuild their lives. A childhood fascination with his construction set turned into an interest in the workings of developing technology. Baer saw possibility in what others criticized, including television, which he imagined as a platform for games. Wessels narrates the story of Baer’s inventive history in a conversational tone, using exclamation marks and posing rhetorical questions. Active and expressive cartoon illustrations accompany the text. Perseverance and creativity in the face of challenges recur as important themes and keys to Baer’s success. Moreover, Wessels emphasizes Baer’s curiosity in the process of creation, not simply the result. While the narrative remains focused, the sense of Baer’s age and the year are disconnected. The few touchstones for time provide no more than a loose progression of events and their historical context, making the book most suitable for pleasure and a gateway for further research.

A personable and energetic introduction with a positive message. (author’s note, additional reading, selected bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7-12)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4549-3259-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A quick flight but a blast from first to last.

EVERYTHING AWESOME ABOUT SPACE AND OTHER GALACTIC FACTS!

From the Everything Awesome About… series

A charged-up roundup of astro-facts.

Having previously explored everything awesome about both dinosaurs (2019) and sharks (2020), Lowery now heads out along a well-traveled route, taking readers from the Big Bang through a planet-by-planet tour of the solar system and then through a selection of space-exploration highlights. The survey isn’t unique, but Lowery does pour on the gosh-wow by filling each hand-lettered, poster-style spread with emphatic colors and graphics. He also goes for the awesome in his selection of facts—so that readers get nothing about Newton’s laws of motion, for instance, but will come away knowing that just 65 years separate the Wright brothers’ flight and the first moon landing. They’ll also learn that space is silent but smells like burned steak (according to astronaut Chris Hadfield), that thanks to microgravity no one snores on the International Space Station, and that Buzz Aldrin was the first man on the moon…to use the bathroom. And, along with a set of forgettable space jokes (OK, one: “Why did the carnivore eat the shooting star?” “Because it was meteor”), the backmatter features drawing instructions for budding space artists and a short but choice reading list. Nods to Katherine Johnson and NASA’s other African American “computers” as well as astronomer Vera Rubin give women a solid presence in the otherwise male and largely White cast of humans. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A quick flight but a blast from first to last. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-35974-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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