A family story over 4 billion years in the making in a suitably ambitious format.

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LIFE

THE FIRST FOUR BILLION YEARS: THE STORY OF LIFE FROM THE BIG BANG TO THE EVOLUTION OF HUMANS

Grand in scope, art, and trim size, a panoramic survey of this planet’s residents from earliest prokaryotes to our species’ first direct ancestors.

Opening with an enormous double gatefold headed “Here Comes the Sun,” Jenkins’ account begins at the beginning (when, as he puts it, “something happened”) and ends with the split 5 or 6 million years ago that led to chimpanzees down one line and humans down the other. In between, it presents the history of living things within a framework of extinction events, ice ages, and other climate-related shifts. Into this admirably coherent view of current thinking about our planet’s deep past he also crams technical nomenclature (“Among the new kinds of animals on land were different synapsid and sauropsid amniotes”), which, along with all the equally polysyllabic identifiers accompanying the illustrations, should delight young sesquipedalians. Baker-Smith’s paintings, a gore-free mix of full-spread color scenes and sepia or graphite galleries of individual figures, show off his versatility—some exhibiting close attention to fine detail, others being nearly abstract, and all (particularly an armored marine Dunkleosteus on the attack and a Tyrannosaurus that is all teeth, feathery mane, and wild eyes) demonstrating a real flair for drama. Design trumps legibility for a few passages that are printed in smaller type on dark or variegated backdrops.

A family story over 4 billion years in the making in a suitably ambitious format. (glossary, timelines) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0420-9

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Candlewick Studio

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Despite its not insignificant flaws, this book provides insights into the lives of important women, many of whom have...

SHE DID IT!

21 WOMEN WHO CHANGED THE WAY WE THINK

Caldecott Medalist McCully delves into the lives of extraordinary American women.

Beginning with the subject of her earlier biography Ida M. Tarbell (2014), McCully uses a chronological (by birth year) structure to organize her diverse array of subjects, each of whom is allotted approximately 10 pages. Lovely design enhances the text with a full-color portrait of each woman and small additional illustrations in the author/illustrator’s traditional style, plenty of white space, and spare use of dynamic colors. This survey provides greater depth than most, but even so, some topics go troublingly uncontextualized to the point of reinforcing stereotype: “In slavery, Black women had been punished for trying to improve their appearance. Now that they were free, many cared a great deal about grooming”; “President Roosevelt ordered all Japanese Americans on the West Coast to report to internment camps to keep them from providing aid to the enemy Japanese forces.” Of the 21 surveyed, one Japanese-American woman (Patsy Mink) is highlighted, as are one Latinx woman (Dolores Huerta), one Mohegan woman (Gladys Tantaquidgeon), three black women (Madam C.J. Walker, Ella Baker, and Shirley Chisholm), four out queer white women (Billie Jean King, Barbara Gittings, Jane Addams, and Isadora Duncan; the latter two’s sexualities are not discussed), two Jewish women (Gertrude Berg and Vera Rubin), and three women with known disabilities (Addams, Dorothea Lange, and Temple Grandin).

Despite its not insignificant flaws, this book provides insights into the lives of important women, many of whom have otherwise yet to be featured in nonfiction for young readers. (sources) (Collective biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-01991-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for...

TWO MEN AND A CAR

FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, AL CAPONE, AND A CADILLAC V-8

A custom-built, bulletproof limo links two historical figures who were pre-eminent in more or less different spheres.

Garland admits that a claim that FDR was driven to Congress to deliver his “Day of Infamy” speech in a car that once belonged to Capone rests on shaky evidence. He nonetheless uses the anecdote as a launchpad for twin portraits of contemporaries who occupy unique niches in this country’s history but had little in common. Both were smart, ambitious New Yorkers and were young when their fathers died, but they definitely “headed in opposite directions.” As he fills his biographical sketches with standard-issue facts and has disappointingly little to say about the car itself (which was commissioned by Capone in 1928 and still survives), this outing seems largely intended to be a vehicle for the dark, heavy illustrations. These are done in muted hues with densely scratched surfaces and angled so that the two men, the period backgrounds against which they are posed, and the car have monumental looks. It’s a reach to bill this, as the author does, a “story about America,” but it does at least offer a study in contrasts featuring two of America’s most renowned citizens. Most of the human figures are white in the art, but some group scenes include a few with darker skin.

The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for thought. (timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-88448-620-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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