An artful and inspiring effort.

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HENRIETTA LEAVITT, PIONEERING WOMAN ASTRONOMER

Burleigh weaves imagination and information to sketch the life of a female scientist and illuminate her achievements.

Henrietta Swan Leavitt, born in 1868, was a graduate of Oberlin and of the school that would become Radcliffe. Her interest in astronomy led her to work for many years in the Harvard Observatory. Although women were prevented from taking part in many facets of academic exploration, Leavitt made a major discovery within the parameters of her assigned work. Though little is known of his subject’s life, Burleigh posits an early interest in the stars that may help to engage young listeners. The conversational text moves quickly, taking readers from dreamy child to dedicated researcher. Sophisticated vocabulary and complex concepts, as well as the variety of supplementary information Burleigh provides, from quotations about the stars to brief information about other female astronomers, suggest that this would be most useful as supplemental material in a science curriculum. Colón’s watercolor, pen and pencil illustrations extend the text as, for example, when the sideways glances of Leavitt’s college peers effectively convey just how unusual her interests and accomplishments were for the time. They also capture the fascination and beauty of starlight, which seems almost to twinkle at times. The current educational emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math (aka STEM) will likely increase interest in biographies about women’s achievements in these fields.

An artful and inspiring effort. (quotations, afterword, author’s note, glossary, Internet resources, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4169-5819-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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A crisp historical vignette.

BEN'S REVOLUTION

BENJAMIN RUSSELL AND THE BATTLE OF BUNKER HILL

A boy experiences the Boston Tea Party, the response to the Intolerable Acts, and the battle at Breed’s Hill in Charlestown.

Philbrick has taken his Bunker Hill (2013), pulled from its 400 pages the pivotal moments, added a 12-year-old white boy—Benjamin Russell—as the pivot, and crafted a tale of what might have happened to him during those days of unrest in Boston from 1773 to 1775 (Russell was a real person). Philbrick explains, in plainspoken but gradually accelerating language, the tea tax, the Boston Tea Party, the Intolerable Acts, and the quartering of troops in Boston as well as the institution of a military government. Into this ferment, he introduces Benjamin Russell, where he went to school, his part-time apprenticeship at Isaiah Thomas’ newspaper, sledding down Beacon Hill, and the British officer who cleaned the cinders from the snow so the boys could sled farther and farther. It is these humanizing touches that make war its own intolerable act. Readers see Benjamin, courtesy of Minor’s misty gouache-and-watercolor tableaux, as he becomes stranded outside Boston Neck and becomes a clerk for the patriots. Significant characters are introduced, as is the geography of pre-landfilled Boston, to gain a good sense of why certain actions took place where they did. The final encounter at Breed’s Hill demonstrates how a battle can be won by retreating.

A crisp historical vignette. (maps, author’s note, illustrator’s note) (Historical fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 23, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-16674-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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