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PERKIN'S PERFECT PURPLE

HOW A BOY CREATED COLOR WITH CHEMISTRY

Perfect for STEAM-infused reading and for grasping the value of serendipity.

An introduction to the life and innovations of William Henry Perkin (1838-1907), an English chemist who tried to find a cure for malaria but instead produced “purple for the people.”

Brown and Dunn establish context by showing a cloth maker’s dismay when Queen Victoria demands a crown of purple velvet: The challenge of producing it was one of the reasons the color was reserved for the rich and royals. Phoenicians had extracted the mucus of mollusks while the English soaked fabric in bark and berries, then urine to make it colorfast. Enter Perkin, son of a London carpenter. His professor at the Royal College of Chemistry, searching for an antidote during a malaria epidemic, gave Perkin a formula to attempt synthesizing quinine from coal tar. While the experiment failed, Perkin refined the scientific methodology and documentation and created—in a last-minute do-over—a gorgeous new color. The narrative is brisk, alliterative, and full of well-chosen details. Children will be intrigued at the ingenious and sometimes gross aspects of dye-making. In compositions brimming with pattern, Sanna controls an orderly palette, allowing the new hue to pop. Bright droplets are a design element throughout, framing key words, emanating from Perkin’s attic laboratory, squirting off the page to celebrate his lasting impact. The conclusion and extraordinarily rich author’s note and period visuals emphasize the White Englishman’s contributions to the fashion, medical, and scientific communities.

Perfect for STEAM-infused reading and for grasping the value of serendipity. (bibliography, experiment) (Picture book/biography. 6-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-03284-1

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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BASKETBALL DREAMS

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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NO READING ALLOWED

THE WORST READ-ALOUD BOOK EVER

Preposterous situations and farcical sound-alike sentences will elicit groans and giggles.

Homophones in versatile parallel sentences create absurd scenarios.

The pattern is simple but endlessly funny: Two sentences, each illustrated, sound the same but are differentiated by their use of homophones. On the verso of the opening spread a cartoon restaurant scene shows a diner lifting a plate of spaghetti and meatballs to a waiter who removes a dark hair from the plate of noodles: “The hair came forth.” (Both figures have brown skin.) Opposite, the scene shows a race with a tortoise at the finish line while a hare trails the tortoise, a snake, and a snail: “The hare came fourth.” The humorous line drawings feature an array of humans, animals, and monsters and provide support and context to the sentences, however bizarre they may seem. New vocabulary is constantly introduced, as is the idea that spelling and punctuation can alter meaning. Some pairings get quite sophisticated; others are rather forced. “The barred man looted the establishment. / The bard man luted the establishment” stretches the concept, paralleling barred with bard as adjectives and looted with luted as verbs. The former is an orange-jumpsuited White prisoner in a cell; the other, a brown-skinned musician strumming a lute for a racially diverse group of dancers. Poetic license may allow for luted, though the word lute is glaringly missing from the detailed glossary.

Preposterous situations and farcical sound-alike sentences will elicit groans and giggles. (Informational picture book. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72820-659-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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