Storywise, this admiring introduction to one of the foremost inventors of the electrical age sparkles, but it doesn’t...

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ZAP! NIKOLA TESLA TAKES CHARGE

From the Great Idea series

Nikola Tesla arrived in the United States nearly penniless, but he had engineering skills and a grand dream.

In the late 19th century, this immigrant from Croatia imagined generating electricity from Niagara Falls and electrifying the country with an alternating current system. Ultimately, working with George Westinghouse, he made those dreams come true. Tesla’s actual accomplishments are a difficult and controversial subject, but his name increasingly appears in children’s fiction. This new entry in the Great Ideas series may help explain his appeal. Although some of his setbacks are noted and the author hints at his lack of commercial success, mostly this quirky engineer is portrayed as a man who made his dream come true. There is some invented or reworked dialogue, and his story has been simplified. Slavin's digitally colored pen-and-ink drawings have just the right historical look; they offer a bit of humor and are full of interesting machines and motors. Bibliographical references appear on the copyright page as “sources of inspiration”; they include one written for children, Elizabeth Rusch and Oliver Dominguez’s Electrical Wizard (2013), which is visually less engaging but more useful, especially for its backmatter.

Storywise, this admiring introduction to one of the foremost inventors of the electrical age sparkles, but it doesn’t provide a steady, dependable source of information. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-77049-522-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tundra

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way.

NOAH CHASES THE WIND

A young boy sees things a little differently than others.

Noah can see patterns in the dust when it sparkles in the sunlight. And if he puts his nose to the ground, he can smell the “green tang of the ants in the grass.” His most favorite thing of all, however, is to read. Noah has endless curiosity about how and why things work. Books open the door to those answers. But there is one question the books do not explain. When the wind comes whistling by, where does it go? Noah decides to find out. In a chase that has a slight element of danger—wind, after all, is unpredictable—Noah runs down streets, across bridges, near a highway, until the wind lifts him off his feet. Cowman’s gusty wisps show each stream of air turning a different jewel tone, swirling all around. The ribbons gently bring Noah home, setting him down under the same thinking tree where he began. Did it really happen? Worthington’s sensitive exploration leaves readers with their own set of questions and perhaps gratitude for all types of perspective. An author’s note mentions children on the autism spectrum but widens to include all who feel a little different.

An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60554-356-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Redleaf Lane

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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