Alive, bursting with color and action, this volume introduces Virginia Lee Burton to a new generation of big machine...

BIG MACHINES

THE STORY OF VIRGINIA LEE BURTON

Virginia Lee Burton’s big machines roar to new life in a new biography of the author.

Rinker, author of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site (2014; illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld), is right at home describing the life and times of big machines. “Ting, Ting, Ting!...CLINGETY-CLANG!” comes Maybelle the cable car. “CHUG! CHUG! CHUG!” says Katy the crawler tractor as she digs her way through a double-page spread of snow. Clearly a labor of love for Rocco, the illustrations demonstrate the same care for book design evident in Burton’s work. Endpapers depict Burton’s Little House encircled by big machines, an effect akin to the block-printed fabrics of the Folly Cove design group the illustrator worked with in Massachusetts. Rocco’s illustrations capture the look, personality, and energy of the machines without being overly imitative, and he offers playful departures, such as the final double-page spread featuring a spirited procession of Choo Choo, Mary Anne the steam shovel, Katy, and Maybelle as “their stories come to life…quite magically… / for Aris and Michael,” Burton’s sons, represented as her inspirations. The beautiful symbiosis of text and art works on several levels—as a biography, a study of the artist’s creative process, and a demonstration of the themes of change and survival evident in Burton’s picture books.

Alive, bursting with color and action, this volume introduces Virginia Lee Burton to a new generation of big machine enthusiasts. (author’s note) (Picture book/biography. 4-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-71557-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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A lovely encouragement to young writers to persist.

HOW TO WRITE A STORY

This follow-up to How To Read a Story (2005) shows a child going through the steps of creating a story, from choosing an idea through sharing with friends.

A young black child lies in a grassy field writing in a journal, working on “Step 1 / Search for an Idea— / a shiny one.” During a walk to the library, various ideas float in colorful thought bubbles, with exclamation points: “playing soccer! / dogs!” Inside the library, less-distinct ideas, expressed as shapes and pictures, with question marks, float about as the writer collects ideas to choose from. The young writer must then choose a setting, a main character, and a problem for that protagonist. Plotting, writing with detail, and revising are described in child-friendly terms and shown visually, in the form of lists and notes on faux pieces of paper. Finally, the writer sits in the same field, in a new season, sharing the story with friends. The illustrations feature the child’s writing and drawing as well as images of imagined events from the book in progress bursting off the page. The child’s main character is an adventurous mermaid who looks just like the child, complete with afro-puff pigtails, representing an affirming message about writing oneself into the world. The child’s family, depicted as black, moves in the background of the setting, which is also populated by a multiracial cast.

A lovely encouragement to young writers to persist. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-5666-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Energetic enough to carry younger rocketeers off the launch pad if not into a very high orbit.

PROFESSOR ASTRO CAT'S SPACE ROCKETS

From the Professor Astro Cat series

The bubble-helmeted feline explains what rockets do and the role they have played in sending people (and animals) into space.

Addressing a somewhat younger audience than in previous outings (Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space, 2013, etc.), Astro Cat dispenses with all but a light shower of “factoroids” to describe how rockets work. A highly selective “History of Space Travel” follows—beginning with a crew of fruit flies sent aloft in 1947, later the dog Laika (her dismal fate left unmentioned), and the human Yuri Gagarin. Then it’s on to Apollo 11 in 1969; the space shuttles Discovery, Columbia, and Challenger (the fates of the latter two likewise elided); the promise of NASA’s next-gen Orion and the Space Launch System; and finally vague closing references to other rockets in the works for local tourism and, eventually, interstellar travel. In the illustrations the spacesuited professor, joined by a mouse and cat in similar dress, do little except float in space and point at things. Still, the art has a stylish retro look, and portraits of Sally Ride and Guion Bluford diversify an otherwise all-white, all-male astronaut corps posing heroically or riding blocky, geometric spacecraft across starry reaches.

Energetic enough to carry younger rocketeers off the launch pad if not into a very high orbit. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-911171-55-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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