JUNE ALMEIDA, VIRUS DETECTIVE!

THE WOMAN WHO DISCOVERED THE FIRST HUMAN CORONAVIRUS

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

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. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

JACKIE ROBINSON

AMERICAN HERO

It’s an often-told story, but the author is still in a position to give it a unique perspective.

The author of Promises to Keep: How Jackie Robinson Changed America (2004) tells her father’s tale again, for younger readers.

Though using a less personal tone this time and referring to herself in the third person, Robinson still devotes as much attention to his family life, youth and post-baseball career as she does to his achievements on the field. Writing in short sentences and simple language, she presents a clear picture of the era’s racial attitudes and the pressures he faced both in the military service and in baseball—offering plenty of clear reasons to regard him not just as a champion athlete, but as a hero too. An early remark about how he ran with “a bunch of black, Japanese, and Mexican boys” while growing up in Pasadena is insensitively phrased, and a sweeping claim that by 1949 “[t]he racial tension was broken” in baseball is simplistic. Nevertheless, by and large her account covers the bases adequately. The many photos include an admixture of family snapshots, and a closing Q-and-A allows the author to announce the imminent release of a new feature film about Robinson.

It’s an often-told story, but the author is still in a position to give it a unique perspective. (Biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-54006-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

WALT DISNEY

DRAWN FROM IMAGINATION

A squeaky-clean biography of the original Mouseketeer.

Scollon begins with the (to say the least) arguable claim that Disney grew up to “define and shape what would come to be known as the American Century.” Following this, he retraces Disney’s life and career, characterizing him as a visionary whose only real setbacks came from excess ambition or at the hands of unscrupulous film distributors. Disney’s brother Roy appears repeatedly to switch between roles as encourager and lead doubter, but except in chapters covering his childhood, the rest of his family only puts in occasional cameos. Unsurprisingly, there is no mention of Disney’s post–World War II redbaiting, and his most controversial film, Song of the South, gets only a single reference (and that with a positive slant). More puzzling is the absence of Mary Poppins from the tally of Disney triumphs. Still, readers will come away with a good general picture of the filmmaking and animation techniques that Disney pioneered, as well as a highlight history of his studio, television work and amusement parks. Discussion questions are appended: “What do you think were Walt Disney’s greatest accomplishments and why?” Brown’s illustrations not seen. An iconic success story that has often been told before but rarely so one-dimensionally or with such firm adherence to the company line. (bibliography) (Biography. 8-10)

 

Pub Date: July 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9647-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Disney Press

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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