A perceptive, loving tribute.

A uniquely personal portrait of the United States’ first woman in space, illustrated with sheaves of public and private photos.

As her longtime companion, as well as co-author (of Exploring Our Solar System, 2003, etc.) and business partner, O’Shaughnessy is in an unparalleled position to illuminate Ride’s inner life as much as her well-known outer one. She does so here in a frank, engagingly detailed account that tenders as much about her subject’s significant friendships and loves as it does about her outstanding academic, athletic, astronautical, and post-NASA achievements. All of these are also traced in the illustrations, which begin with baby and toddler pictures, close with images of post-mortem tributes (Ride died in 2012, of pancreatic cancer), and in between mix family snapshots and posed portraits with report cards, yearbook photos, news clippings, mementos, and letters. Sue Macy’s excellent Sally Ride: Life on a Mission (2014) covers much of the same territory (and broke the news to younger readers that Ride was gay), but both the visual material and the author’s personal memories here add significant insights and angles of view to her subject. They describe the growth and complex character of a smart but unmotivated young “underachiever” who became anything but and stands as an exemplar for budding scientists of any sex.

A perceptive, loving tribute. (timeline, index) (Biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59643-994-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2015



A glib and occasionally spotty picture but eminently readable and generally on target.

A lighthearted view of the universe’s progress, from the Big Bang to the evolution of bacteria, bonobos—and “Joe Schmo from Buffalo.”

Returning continually to Mr. Schmo (“Jos Grootjes uit Driel” in the original Dutch) as his exemplar for Homo sapiens, Schutten starts simple—“Yes, even Lady Gaga is made up of atoms”—and proceeds from there. He explains how nonliving components combined to create living things of increasing complexity through evolution: “the greatest scientific idea of all time.” Defining “life” (arguably) as anything that eats, reproduces, and dies, he offers thoughts on selected biological structures and processes from genetics (“Your genes are actually the boss of you”) to how eyes developed and why it’s such a good idea to have some separation between mouth and butt. Declaring himself an agnostic, he also takes swipes at both intelligent design arguments and creationism. Though his discussion of hiccups is blurred by fuzzy logic, and viruses and extinction events rate barely a mention, his overall account of life’s origins and tenure is as rich in detail as it is entertaining. Rieder likewise supplies a flood of line drawings that provide humorous visual commentary as well as additional information.

A glib and occasionally spotty picture but eminently readable and generally on target. (end references, index) (Nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-58270-525-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Beyond Words/Aladdin

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015



From the Campfire Heroes series

Give this a pass: much clearer pictures of what DNA does and the strong personalities who were involved in winkling out its...

The story of the discovery of the structure of DNA, in graphic format.

Failing to take advantage of either the format or the historic search’s drama, this rendition presents a portentous account heavy on explication and melodramatic rhetoric and featuring a cast of grimacing or pinched-looking figures spouting wooden dialogue. Watson: “So if we combine our research with Rosalind’s data and…” Crick: “And Linus’s approach of building models. We might be able to figure this out.” Helfand diffuses the focus by paying nearly as much attention to the childhoods and early careers of Linus Pauling, Maurice Wilkins, and Rosalind Franklin as he does to Watson and Crick but downplays the rivalries that drove the race. Also, for all the technical detail he injects (“the phosphates would have to be on the outside”) and further explanations in the back, readers will be left in the dark about the role of genes, how DNA actually works, or even the significance of its double helix structure. A closing note about the contributions of Indian-born Nobelist Har Gobind Khorana adds a note of diversity to the all-white cast.

Give this a pass: much clearer pictures of what DNA does and the strong personalities who were involved in winkling out its secrets are available. (Graphic nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-93-81182-21-5

Page Count: 92

Publisher: Campfire

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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