While Greenwood was indeed an interesting character, the more valuable—even revolutionary—takeaway is that history isn’t...

EARMUFFS FOR EVERYONE!

HOW CHESTER GREENWOOD BECAME KNOWN AS THE INVENTOR OF EARMUFFS

A look not just at the invention (or not) of earmuffs, but at the process of inventing and the way that history can rewrite itself.

Every year in the beginning of December, the town of Farmington, Maine, has a parade in which all the participants (cars, buses, trucks, included) wear earmuffs. This parade celebrates Chester Greenwood, who was not the inventor of earmuffs. Wait. What? That’s right. Chester Greenwood did not invent earmuffs; he improved the designs of other inventors, applied for a patent and is misremembered today as the inventor of the ubiquitous ear coverings so popular in cold climates. In her latest nonfiction title, McCarthy looks at how this happened, along the way delivering tidbits about patents; the lives of Greenwood and his wife, Isabel, who was active in the suffrage movement; other inventors who were really improvers (Edison and his light bulb); and the movement to dedicate a day to Greenwood. McCarthy’s acrylic illustrations nicely bring history to kids, mixing the familiar and the new. They realistically portray history (and Farmington!) and feature her characteristic big-eyed, round-faced people. Two photographs show Greenwood, sporting earmuffs of course, and a portion of the Chester Greenwood Day parade in downtown Farmington. Backmatter includes a fascinating note about the research for the book, more about patents and a bibliography.

While Greenwood was indeed an interesting character, the more valuable—even revolutionary—takeaway is that history isn’t necessarily reliable; it can change, and McCarthy’s genius is that she communicates this so easily to her audience. (Informational picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-0637-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This effort gives partial information where children could have handled the full picture. Look to Julie Hannah and Joan...

IT'S RAINING!

Though Gibbons includes lots of facts about rain in her latest, some flaws limit its usefulness.

The explanation of the water cycle, though basic, is solid and accessible for children: “As the water vapor moves higher into the sky, the air becomes cooler and cooler. Water vapor soon turns into millions of water droplets. This is called condensation.” Gibbons then goes on to describe the types of rain clouds. Unfortunately, her trademark watercolor-illustration style does not differentiate these enough, nor does the text, to make this knowledge applicable. She next tackles the different ways rain falls: drizzle, shower, rain, rainstorm, thunderstorm, flash flood. While the bit about thunder and lightning may soothe nerves about this typical childhood fear, introducing the threat of broken windows and falling tree limbs from other storms may offset this. The final few pages address storm cleanup, acid rain, cleaner energy sources and the possibility of a rainbow. How this latter forms is left to the backmatter, whose many facts should have been supplied in the text itself, including tips on staying dry and safe and a list of supplies to have on hand in case of a storm. As in her other titles, text within the illustrations gives further information and/or defines vocabulary words.

This effort gives partial information where children could have handled the full picture. Look to Julie Hannah and Joan Holub’s The Man Who Named the Clouds, illustrated by Paige Billin-Frye (2006), instead. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2924-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it.

THE OLD BOAT

A multigenerational tale of a boat’s life with a Black family, written by two brothers who loved similar boats.

In the opening spread, a smiling, brown-skinned adult dangles a line from the back of a green-and-white boat while a boy peers eagerly over the side at the sea life. The text never describes years passing, but each page turn reveals the boy’s aging, more urban development on the shore, increasing water pollution, marine-life changes (sea jellies abound on one page), and shifting water levels. Eventually, the boy, now a teenager, steers the boat, and as an adult, he fishes alone but must go farther and farther out to sea to make his catch. One day, the man loses his way, capsizes in a storm, and washes up on a small bay island, with the overturned, sunken boat just offshore. Now a “new sailor” cleans up the land and water with others’ help. The physical similarities between the shipwrecked sailor and the “new sailor” suggest that this is not a new person but one whose near-death experience has led to an epiphany that changes his relationship to water. As the decaying boat becomes a new marine habitat, the sailor teaches the next generation (a child with hair in two Afro puffs) to fish. Focusing primarily on the sea, the book’s earth-toned illustrations, created with hundreds of stamps, carry the compelling plot.

A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-00517-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more