Calling out to history buffs and scientists, this will inspire young inventors.

ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL ANSWERS THE CALL

From an early age “Aleck” (Bell’s family nickname) evinced an interest in sound and hearing, probably due to his father’s profession of speech therapy and his mother’s hearing loss.

Aleck’s childhood experiences, observations, and experiments led to his careers, first as a teacher to the deaf and then as an inventor of the telephone. Aleck was determined to speed up communication and improve on the telegraph, first developed in the 1830s. The book’s accessible text focuses on his life up to and including the invention of the telephone in 1876, when he was 29. His later inventions are described in the backmatter, along with a chronology and an author’s note. The multimedia illustrations use photographic collage elements, friendly, slightly cartoony human figures, and sound effects and dialogue balloons on some pages. Photographic insets and diagrams further explain Bell’s work. This expands the content of the book and makes it appealing to both children looking for the story of Bell’s life and his lifelong curiosity and those more interested in scientific explanations. However, it lacks a bibliography. The front and rear endpapers are of particular note, depicting a photographic history of the telephone from 1876 to 1989 in sepia tone. The author’s note describes Aleck’s interest in photography and her own desire to incorporate photography in different ways in the book’s design.

Calling out to history buffs and scientists, this will inspire young inventors. (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58089-721-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness.

THE BRAIN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

An introduction to the lead guitar and vocalist for the Brainiacs—the human brain.

The brain (familiar to readers of Seluk’s “The Awkward Yeti” webcomic, which spun off the adult title Heart and Brain, 2015) looks like a dodgeball with arms and legs—pinkish, sturdy, and roundish, with a pair of square-framed spectacles bestowing an air of importance and hipness. Other organs of the body—tongue, lungs, stomach, muscle, and heart—are featured as members of the brain’s rock band (the verso of the dust jacket is a poster of the band). Seluk’s breezy, conversational prose and brightly colored, boldly outlined cartoon illustrations deliver basic information. The brain’s role in keeping the heart beating and other automatic functions, directing body movements, interpreting sights and sounds, remembering smells and tastes, and regulating sleep and hunger are all explained, prose augmented by dialogue balloons and information sidebars. Seluk points out, importantly, that feelings originate in the brain: “You can control how you react…but your feelings happen no matter what.” The parodied album covers on the front endpapers (including the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Green Day, Run DMC, Queen, Nirvana) will amuse parents—or at least grandparents—and the rear endpapers serve up band members’ clever social media and texting screenshots. Backmatter includes a glossary and further brain trivia but no resources or bibliography.

A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-16700-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders.

THE BIG BOOK OF THE BLUE

Denizens of the deep crowd oversized pages in this populous gallery of ocean life.

The finny and tentacled sea creatures drifting or arrowing through Zommer’s teeming watercolor seascapes are generally recognizable, and they are livened rather than distorted by the artist’s tendency to place human eyes on the same side of many faces, Picasso-like. Headers such as “Ink-teresting” or “In for the krill” likewise add a playful tone to the pithy comments on anatomical features or behavioral quirks that accompany the figures (which include, though rarely, a white human diver). The topical spreads begin with an overview of ocean families (“Some are hairy, some have scales, some have fins and some are boneless and brainless!”), go on to introduce select animals in no particular order from sea horses and dragonets to penguins and pufferfish, then close with cautionary remarks on chemical pollution and floating plastic. The author invites readers as they go to find both answers to such questions as “Why does a crab run sideways?” and also a small sardine hidden in some, but not all, of the pictures. For the latter he provides a visual key at the end, followed by a basic glossary.

A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders. (index) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-500-65119-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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