Following Just Like Beverly, by Vicki Conrad and illustrated by David Hohn (2019), this second entry in the Growing to Greatness series, featuring creative people from the Pacific Northwest, focuses on Bill Gates and the curiosity and ambition that led to his prominence in the world of personal computing.
As the third William Henry Gates, Bill was called Trey until he switched from his public school to the strict and exclusive Lakeside School in Seattle. Bored in school, Gates was finally inspired when he and his friends discovered a ASR-33 Teletype, which spurred Bill to begin programming, suspecting this was the forefront of a home-computer revolution. At Harvard, he and his friends began creating their own software and later created a company initially called Micro-Soft. The text is lively but frequently vague, with occasional odd phrases and ideas left unexplained. For example, when Gates became concerned about poor children around the world dying of diseases for lack of inexpensive vaccines, the text states, “Bill decided to turn caring into action,” but doesn’t specify exactly what he did, missing an opportunity to showcase Gates’ philanthropic work. Mildenberger’s illustrations nicely capture the energy of the text and include brown faces of classmates and on his travels. Young readers and listeners will get the titular message loud and clear.
Eye-opening for young people who often take their technology for granted. (further information, timeline, glossary) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)