An enchanting, inspirational account of Jemison’s early life that illustrates the importance of encouraging and supporting...

MAE AMONG THE STARS

Pioneering African-American astronaut Mae Jemison’s childhood love of space and supportive parents led to her illustrious career.

Little Mae’s pastoral childhood home is presented in warm yellows, blues, and greens, visually establishing the atmosphere promoted by her loving parents, who encourage her dreams. When Mae’s school assignment asks her to write about what she wants to be when she grows up, Mae responds that she wants to see Earth from space. Her parents tell her she must become an astronaut to do that, and when Mae asks if they think she can, their response weaves its way throughout the narrative: “Of course you can. If you can dream it, if you believe it and work hard for it, anything is possible.” Thus begins Mae’s obsession with space: reading about space, creating homemade astronaut costumes and spaceships, and drawing spacescapes. But when she shares her dreams in school, her white teacher discourages her, and her mostly white classmates laugh. Mae is crestfallen, her despondency captured with deceptively simple lines and a blue wash. Her dismay is short-lived, as she is buoyed up by her parents’ continued support and encouragement. Uplifted, Mae promises to wave to her parents from space one day—and she does just that, as the first African-American astronaut.

An enchanting, inspirational account of Jemison’s early life that illustrates the importance of encouraging and supporting children’s dreams. (biographical note) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-265173-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development.

DOUBLE PUPPY TROUBLE

From the McKellar Math series

A child who insists on having MORE of everything gets MORE than she can handle.

Demanding young Moxie Jo is delighted to discover that pushing the button on a stick she finds in the yard doubles anything she points to. Unfortunately, when she points to her puppy, Max, the button gets stuck—and in no time one dog has become two, then four, then eight, then….Readers familiar with the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” or Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona will know how this is going to go, and Masse obliges by filling up succeeding scenes with burgeoning hordes of cute yellow puppies enthusiastically making a shambles of the house. McKellar puts an arithmetical spin on the crisis—“The number of pups exponentially grew: / They each multiplied times a factor of 2!” When clumsy little brother Clark inadvertently intervenes, Moxie Jo is left wiser about her real needs (mostly). An appended section uses lemons to show how exponential doubling quickly leads to really big numbers. Stuart J. Murphy’s Double the Ducks (illustrated by Valeria Petrone, 2002) in the MathStart series explores doubling from a broader perspective and includes more backmatter to encourage further study, but this outing adds some messaging: Moxie Jo’s change of perspective may give children with sharing issues food for thought. She and her family are White; her friends are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-101-93386-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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