A beautifully told story of a young woman with lofty aspirations.

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LIGHTER THAN AIR

SOPHIE BLANCHARD, THE FIRST WOMAN PILOT

A fascination with hot air balloons has hit late-18th-century Paris, and young Sophie Armant dreams of joining those bold aeronauts.

Sophie especially admires the daredevil Jean-Pierre Blanchard, who, with John Jeffries, was the first to cross the English Channel in a balloon. Sophie, however, is told that “Women were made of weaker stuff. Their place was on earth.” But she meets and marries Blanchard, and they fly together until his death, when she begins to fly alone, becoming the first woman pilot. Toward the end of her career, Sophie reflects on the limits the world puts on women and realizes that “There is a limit. And that limit is the sky.” Smith’s prose—rich, poetic, and strong on active verbs—is a fine match for Tavares’ gorgeous ink-and-watercolor illustrations, which focus on Sophie and the skies, his palette pairing Sophie’s moods with the colors of the skies. The other stars—the balloons themselves—are dazzling, with intricate lines, rich colors, and swelling bags ready to go aloft. His strong, monumental style and steady lines give even the most perilous-looking of Sophie’s aerial perches comforting stability—even as she sets off fireworks from the air. An author’s note adds information, including a note on Sophie’s tragic death.

A beautifully told story of a young woman with lofty aspirations. (illustrator’s note, bibliography) (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7732-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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Cool and stylish.

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ADA TWIST, SCIENTIST

Her intellectual curiosity is surpassed only by her passion for science. But what to do about her messy experiments?

Ada is speechless until she turns 3. But once she learns how to break out of her crib, there’s no stopping the kinky-haired, brown-skinned girl. “She tore through the house on a fact-finding spree.” When she does start speaking, her favorite words are “why,” “how,” and “when.” Her parents, a fashion-forward black couple who sport a variety of trendy outfits, are dumbfounded, and her older brother can only point at her in astonishment. She amazes her friends with her experiments. Ada examines all the clocks in the house, studies the solar system, and analyzes all the smells she encounters. Fortunately, her parents stop her from putting the cat in the dryer, sending her instead to the Thinking Chair. But while there, she covers the wall with formulae. What can her parents do? Instead of punishing her passion, they decide to try to understand it. “It’s all in the heart of a young scientist.” Though her plot is negligible—Ada’s parents arguably change more than she does—Beaty delightfully advocates for girls in science in her now-trademark crisply rhyming text. Roberts’ illustrations, in watercolor, pen, and ink, manage to be both smart and silly; the page compositions artfully evoke the tumult of Ada’s curiosity, filling white backgrounds with questions and clutter.

Cool and stylish. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2137-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the...

ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER

Rhymed couplets convey the story of a girl who likes to build things but is shy about it. Neither the poetry nor Rosie’s projects always work well.

Rosie picks up trash and oddments where she finds them, stashing them in her attic room to work on at night. Once, she made a hat for her favorite zookeeper uncle to keep pythons away, and he laughed so hard that she never made anything publicly again. But when her great-great-aunt Rose comes to visit and reminds Rosie of her own past building airplanes, she expresses her regret that she still has not had the chance to fly. Great-great-aunt Rose is visibly modeled on Rosie the Riveter, the iconic, red-bandanna–wearing poster woman from World War II. Rosie decides to build a flying machine and does so (it’s a heli-o-cheese-copter), but it fails. She’s just about to swear off making stuff forever when Aunt Rose congratulates her on her failure; now she can go on to try again. Rosie wears her hair swooped over one eye (just like great-great-aunt Rose), and other figures have exaggerated hairdos, tiny feet and elongated or greatly rounded bodies. The detritus of Rosie’s collections is fascinating, from broken dolls and stuffed animals to nails, tools, pencils, old lamps and possibly an erector set. And cheddar-cheese spray.

Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the right place. (historical note) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0845-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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