This indisputably timely book makes a solid case for greater recognition.

JUNE ALMEIDA, VIRUS DETECTIVE!

THE WOMAN WHO DISCOVERED THE FIRST HUMAN CORONAVIRUS

Profiles a virologist who was among the first to photograph and identify the coronavirus family.

Almeida’s own family has a significant presence in this account of her career and discoveries. Slade begins with her Glasgow-born subject’s early love of science and the death of her little brother, continues through marriage, divorce, and single parenting to track her growing reputation for expertise in microphotography and electron microscopy, then highlights the watershed human coronavirus paper she co-authored in 1967. A specific description of how she used “negative staining” to prepare her coronavirus specimens adds a laudatory glimpse of technical detail to the plain-language explanations of her discoveries. Incorporating memories and material supplied by the researcher’s daughter, the author of A Computer Called Katherine (illustrated by Veronica Miller Jameson, 2019) presents another underrecognized woman scientist as a role model. In this case, Almeida is not seen as a crusader breaking down barriers of race (she was White) and sexism but more generally as a smart, hard worker doing her best in both private and professional lives. If her character remains hard to pin down, a bit of verse preceding the expansive afterword (“Virus, Virus, shining bright / In the phosphotungstic night”) hints at a sense of humor. Single scientists of color in two group scenes are the only non-White figures in Paganelli’s clean, precisely drawn cartoon illustrations. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 77% of actual size.)

This indisputably timely book makes a solid case for greater recognition. (timeline, adult bibliography.) (Picture book/biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5341-1132-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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At its best when the emphasis is on the skill and artistry of Mime’s most accomplished practitioner—alas, too much of the...

MARCEL MARCEAU

MASTER OF MIME

The legendary mime is introduced to a new generation, though not entirely successfully.

As a child, Marceau loved to silently entertain his friends, like his idol, Charlie Chaplin. During the Nazi occupation of France, Marcel and his brother took on new identities in the French Underground, where they forged documents for Jewish children and helped many to escape to Switzerland. Spielman assumes that her young audience will understand references to deportation and concentration camps; unfortunately for those that don't, her matter-of-fact tone speaks more of adventure than deadly peril. Her tone subtly changes when she lovingly describes Marceau’s training and development as a mime and his stage persona of Bip the clown, admiring his skills in the “art of silence” that won him international renown. But here too, comparisons to the Little Tramp and Pierrot may be outside readers’ frame of reference. Though the illustrations carefully complement the textual content with period details, Gauthier’s cartoon faces are all nearly identical, with only the screen image of Chaplin and Marceau’s Bip having distinctive features. A double-page spread at the conclusion provides photographs of Bip in action and is the only clear indication of Marceau’s stagecraft.

At its best when the emphasis is on the skill and artistry of Mime’s most accomplished practitioner—alas, too much of the book looks elsewhere. (Picture book/biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7613-3961-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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A good introduction with unfortunate missed potential.

WHAT IS A REFUGEE?

A straightforward and simple introduction to what being a refugee means, accompanied by glimpses into real refugees’ lives.

Sensibly depicted throughout the book as people of varying skin tones; with black, brown, blond, or red hair; of young or old age; and with or without glasses, headscarves, or facial hair, refugees are portrayed and described as “just like you and me.” They've been forced to flee their homes on account of danger, although many would have preferred to stay with friends and family, and are described as fortunate if they find a new country where they can live unremarkable lives. Gravel describes war, oppression, and discrimination as reasons to flee one’s country, but she misses natural disasters and environmental degradation as other potential reasons, and despite her repeated emphasis that refugees are “just like” readers, she highlights the stereotypical circumstance of refugee camps. The book ends with an engaging collection of portrayals of refugees: children from different countries speaking about their favorite things, followed by famous refugee women and men from around the world. Readers may find the single sentence that some countries “don’t want to welcome more refugees” inadequate. The emphasis on “more refugees” has the potential of shifting the conversation away from justice for refugees to justifying racist exclusionary policies.

A good introduction with unfortunate missed potential. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-593-12005-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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