An upbeat, necessary history.

INSTRUCTIONS NOT INCLUDED

HOW A TEAM OF WOMEN CODED THE FUTURE

A celebration of three of the female programmers of the World War II–era computer, ENIAC.

Present-tense text describes how Betty Snyder, Jean Jennings, and Kay McNulty have always been standouts: Betty inventively individualistic, Jean tenacious, and Kay perfectionistic. The highly intelligent women especially love math. During WWII, the call goes out for female mathematicians to join the war effort, computing the math problems that determine angles and timing of weapons. But there’s also a top-secret project, the ENIAC. The three heroines are among the mathematicians tapped to figure out how to program the machine and ensure its fast calculations are accurate. The machine’s a costly investment, and it’s up to the programmers to get it working in time for a demonstration for an audience of important men. With each wrong answer ENIAC generates, the pressure on the programmers grows. When they succeed—just in time—the men celebrate by congratulating themselves while the women get back to work coming up with important innovations in programming (Betty’s sort-merge datastream, Jean’s scheme to store programs, and Kay’s thrifty use of memory). The crisp, clear illustrations color-code the women yellow, red, and green for ease in keeping them straight and for showing montages. While the three are white, the forward-looking final page turn embraces the computer age with an illustration of three girls—Asian, white and chubby, and black—sharing the color-coded motif and other visual ties to the heroines’ stories.

An upbeat, necessary history. (authors’ note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-01105-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness.

THE BRAIN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

An introduction to the lead guitar and vocalist for the Brainiacs—the human brain.

The brain (familiar to readers of Seluk’s “The Awkward Yeti” webcomic, which spun off the adult title Heart and Brain, 2015) looks like a dodgeball with arms and legs—pinkish, sturdy, and roundish, with a pair of square-framed spectacles bestowing an air of importance and hipness. Other organs of the body—tongue, lungs, stomach, muscle, and heart—are featured as members of the brain’s rock band (the verso of the dust jacket is a poster of the band). Seluk’s breezy, conversational prose and brightly colored, boldly outlined cartoon illustrations deliver basic information. The brain’s role in keeping the heart beating and other automatic functions, directing body movements, interpreting sights and sounds, remembering smells and tastes, and regulating sleep and hunger are all explained, prose augmented by dialogue balloons and information sidebars. Seluk points out, importantly, that feelings originate in the brain: “You can control how you react…but your feelings happen no matter what.” The parodied album covers on the front endpapers (including the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Green Day, Run DMC, Queen, Nirvana) will amuse parents—or at least grandparents—and the rear endpapers serve up band members’ clever social media and texting screenshots. Backmatter includes a glossary and further brain trivia but no resources or bibliography.

A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-16700-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders.

THE BIG BOOK OF THE BLUE

Denizens of the deep crowd oversized pages in this populous gallery of ocean life.

The finny and tentacled sea creatures drifting or arrowing through Zommer’s teeming watercolor seascapes are generally recognizable, and they are livened rather than distorted by the artist’s tendency to place human eyes on the same side of many faces, Picasso-like. Headers such as “Ink-teresting” or “In for the krill” likewise add a playful tone to the pithy comments on anatomical features or behavioral quirks that accompany the figures (which include, though rarely, a white human diver). The topical spreads begin with an overview of ocean families (“Some are hairy, some have scales, some have fins and some are boneless and brainless!”), go on to introduce select animals in no particular order from sea horses and dragonets to penguins and pufferfish, then close with cautionary remarks on chemical pollution and floating plastic. The author invites readers as they go to find both answers to such questions as “Why does a crab run sideways?” and also a small sardine hidden in some, but not all, of the pictures. For the latter he provides a visual key at the end, followed by a basic glossary.

A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders. (index) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-500-65119-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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