An engaging volume that will encourage readers to think outside the lines.

Rube Goldberg was a famous inventor who didn’t invent anything.

He was a shy and quiet kid who loved to draw and dreamed of becoming a great cartoonist. But his German-immigrant father was horrified: Artists were no better than beggars, so Rube went to Berkeley, studied engineering, and got a job with San Francisco’s Department of Water and Sewers. He hated it, quit, and followed his dream of becoming a cartoonist for a newspaper, landing a job at the New York Evening Mail. He became famous for the cartoons of elaborate inventions he created from 1912 to 1932, a new one every two weeks, some taking as long as 30 hours to draw. Front and back endpapers reproduce several of Goldberg’s black-and-white cartoons depicting zany chain reactions typical of his inventions. Neubecker’s own full-color illustrations deftly re-create the comedy of the originals, with double-page spreads dramatizing how to put holes in doughnuts, how to turn off a light, and how to cut your own hair, adding diversity that’s not seen in the originals. Goldberg appears in the illustrations as a white man; the streets of New York City are peopled with diverse citizens. Young readers will enjoy tracing the chain reactions for each invention and, in so doing, will be using “the most amazing machine in the universe: / the brain!”

An engaging volume that will encourage readers to think outside the lines. (author’s note, sources) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7668-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018


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


A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era.

The New Orleans school child who famously broke the color line in 1960 while surrounded by federal marshals describes the early days of her experience from a 6-year-old’s perspective.

Bridges told her tale to younger children in 2009’s Ruby Bridges Goes to School, but here the sensibility is more personal, and the sometimes-shocking historical photos have been replaced by uplifting painted scenes. “I didn’t find out what being ‘the first’ really meant until the day I arrived at this new school,” she writes. Unfrightened by the crowd of “screaming white people” that greets her at the school’s door (she thinks it’s like Mardi Gras) but surprised to find herself the only child in her classroom, and even the entire building, she gradually realizes the significance of her act as (in Smith’s illustration) she compares a small personal photo to the all-White class photos posted on a bulletin board and sees the difference. As she reflects on her new understanding, symbolic scenes first depict other dark-skinned children marching into classes in her wake to friendly greetings from lighter-skinned classmates (“School is just school,” she sensibly concludes, “and kids are just kids”) and finally an image of the bright-eyed icon posed next to a soaring bridge of reconciliation. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era. (author and illustrator notes, glossary) (Autobiographical picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-75388-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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