THE BRAIN

OUR NERVOUS SYSTEM

What does a neuron look like up close? Simon (The Heart, 1996, etc.) provides a computer-colored micrograph of neurons taken by an electron microscope magnified 20,000 times. He goes on to explain how billions and billions of neurons link up the body network nervous system connecting brain and nerves throughout the body, making thought, memory, movement, and other functions possible. The author includes information on new scientific equipment and techniques in a difficult text that requires careful, repeated reading, e.g., ``This positron computed tomography (PCT) photo uses radioactive tracers in blood sugar to show two different levels of visual stimulation in the brain.'' Full-color photographs, computer simulations, drawings, and three-dimensional models are used to grand effect to clarify, explain, and celebrate the remarkably complex system of brain and nerves; the large format, often with white type on black paper and full-page photos, is visually striking. Those who persevere (with no glossary or index to guide them) will appreciate this fascinating title, a case in which the picture-book format works perfectly to complement text with illustrations, but by no means indicates simplicity. (Picture book/nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-688-14640-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1997

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THE GRADUATION OF JAKE MOON

Jake Moon’s grandfather Skelly used to be the emotional fixer in Jake’s household, the one who soothed his hurts and helped him through hard times. But when Jake is in third grade, Skelly begins forgetting things and by the time Jake is ready to graduate from eighth grade Skelly’s Alzheimer’s has progressed to the point where he is barely aware of his surroundings. Jake learns from Skelly’s doctor that Alzheimer’s disease has three stages, “each . . . worse than the one before it,” which Jake thinks of as “(1) sad, (2) sadder, and (3) the saddest thing you’ve ever seen.” The book chronicles not only Skelly’s deterioration, but also the effect it has on Jake and his relationships with other family members and friends. As Skelly’s condition worsens, their roles reverse and Jake finds himself caring for the man who once cared for him. That, coupled with the fact that his grandfather has become a tremendous embarrassment—at a sleepover, Skelly shows up in Jake’s room without any pants or underpants, for example—causes Jake to disengage from friends and extracurricular activities. Park’s convincing first-person narration rings true, and she is particularly adept at rendering Jake’s complex emotional journey, which encompasses love, confusion, sadness, anger, embarrassment, shame, and finally acceptance. The book has some funny moments, but it’s one of Park’s darker, more poignant creations; readers expecting a Skinnybones–type laugh-a-thon will be sadly disappointed. Nonetheless, Park has produced a perceptive book that should prove useful to children who must navigate similar waters. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-83912-X

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2000

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  • SPONSORED PLACEMENT

A killer thriller.

THREE HOURS IN PARIS

Black takes time out from chronicling the neighborhood-themed exploits of half-French detective Aimée Leduc to introduce a heroine as American as apple pie.

Kate Rees never expected to see Paris again, especially not under these circumstances. Born and bred in rural Oregon, she earned a scholarship to the Sorbonne, where she met Dafydd, a handsome Welshman who stole her heart. The start of World War II finds the couple stationed in the Orkney Islands, where Kate impresses Alfred Stepney of the War Department with the rifle skills she developed helping her dad and five brothers protect the family’s cattle. After unimaginable tragedy strikes, Stepney recruits Kate for a mission that will allow her to channel her newly ignited rage against the Germans who’ve just invaded France. She’s parachuted into the countryside, where her fluent French should help her blend in. Landing in a field, she hops a milk train to Paris, where she plans to shoot Adolf Hitler as he stands on the steps of Sacre-Coeur. Instead, she kills his admiral and has to flee through the streets of Paris, struggling to hook up with the rescuers who are supposed to extract her. Meanwhile, Gunter Hoffman, a career policeman in a wartime assignment with the Reichssicherheitsdienst security forces, is charged with finding the assassin who dared attempt to kill the Führer. It’s hard to see how it can end well for both the cop and the cowgirl. The heroine’s flight is too episodic to capitalize on Black’s skill at character development, but she’s great at raising readers’ blood pressure.

A killer thriller.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Soho Crime

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Not your typical kid-with-cancer book.

WINK

A rare form of cancer takes its toll in this novel based on the author’s experience.

Seventh grader Ross Maloy wants nothing more than to be an average middle schooler, hanging out with his best friends, Abby and Isaac, avoiding the school bully, and crushing on the popular girl. There’s just one thing keeping Ross from being completely ordinary: the rare form of eye cancer that’s reduced him to the kid with cancer at school. Ross’ eye is closed in a permanent wink, and he constantly wears a cowboy hat to protect his eyes. The doctors are hopeful that Ross will be cancer free after treatment, but his vision will be impaired, and the treatments cause him to lose his hair and require the application of a particularly goopy ointment. This isn’t a cancer book built upon a foundation of prayer, hope, and life lessons. The driving force here is Ross’ justifiable anger. Ross is angry at the anonymous kids making hurtful memes about him and at Isaac for abandoning him when he needs a friend most. Ross funnels his feelings into learning how to play guitar, hoping to make a splash at the school’s talent show. The author balances this anger element well against the typical middle-grade tropes. Misunderstood bully? Check. Well-meaning parents? Check. While some of these elements will feel familiar, the novel’s emotional climax remains effectively earned. Characters are paper-white in Harrell’s accompanying cartoons.

Not your typical kid-with-cancer book. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1514-9

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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