MARYAM’S MAGIC

THE STORY OF MATHEMATICIAN MARYAM MIRZAKHANI

Highlighting an important figure, this book also demonstrates that one can excel in more than one field.

The achievements of mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani—first woman and first Iranian to win the Fields Medal, the most important award in the field of mathematics—are celebrated in this new picture book.

Readers meet Maryam as a young girl, a storyteller and an avid reader—her favorite street was filled with bookstores. She was not, however, a fan of math until she discovered geometry, which made her feel like “every number held a story.” Reid delves into Maryam’s life, describing her studies and interests in high school and college in Iran, her pursuit of a graduate degree at Harvard University, her winning the Fields Medal in 2014, and her death in 2017, at the age of 40. She weaves in details such as Maryam’s native language, Farsi; her best friend, Roya; her daughter, Anahita; her secret battle with breast cancer. Jaleel’s soft cartoons pair well with Reid’s words, reinforcing that Maryam was not just a math genius, but someone who loved books and used stories to solve tough problems. When depicting her life in Iran, illustrations show Maryam wearing hijab according to custom; in the U.S. Maryam’s short hair is shown uncovered. An author’s note includes more information on the connections Reid felt with Maryam; a timeline and further reading round out the work. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 63.9% of actual size.)

Highlighting an important figure, this book also demonstrates that one can excel in more than one field. (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-291596-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

BUTT OR FACE?

A gleeful game for budding naturalists.

Artfully cropped animal portraits challenge viewers to guess which end they’re seeing.

In what will be a crowd-pleasing and inevitably raucous guessing game, a series of close-up stock photos invite children to call out one of the titular alternatives. A page turn reveals answers and basic facts about each creature backed up by more of the latter in a closing map and table. Some of the posers, like the tail of an okapi or the nose on a proboscis monkey, are easy enough to guess—but the moist nose on a star-nosed mole really does look like an anus, and the false “eyes” on the hind ends of a Cuyaba dwarf frog and a Promethea moth caterpillar will fool many. Better yet, Lavelle saves a kicker for the finale with a glimpse of a small parasitical pearlfish peeking out of a sea cucumber’s rear so that the answer is actually face and butt. “Animal identification can be tricky!” she concludes, noting that many of the features here function as defenses against attack: “In the animal world, sometimes your butt will save your face and your face just might save your butt!” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gleeful game for budding naturalists. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781728271170

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023

BASKETBALL DREAMS

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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