A well-turned tale with flashes of insight.

BRIGHT DREAMS

THE BRILLIANT IDEAS OF NIKOLA TESLA

An illuminating study of the visionary inventor’s tumultuous life and equally stormy career.

In a portrait powered by twin themes of electricity and obsession, Dockray retraces Tesla’s life from birth (during a thunderstorm) and early youth (wandering about his family’s yard with nose in a book about, presciently, Niagara Falls) to the lighting of the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 and the opening of the massive alternating-current hydroelectric project at, yes, Niagara Falls in 1895. She then closes with a quick list of his other inventions over a view of him speeding past in the modern electric car that bears his name. In an afterword (set in small type) she suggests that his behavior points to an “autism spectrum disorder” diagnosis and summarizes his troubled, obscure final years. Sidebars alongside the main narrative explain the difference between AC and DC, how a dynamo works, and other relevant topics; a timeline includes several incidents and inventions not mentioned in the main narrative. The line-drawn illustrations have an old-time–y look, emphasized by sparing application of color, that’s occasionally jarred by the sudden appearance of a collaged-in photographic element. Though this doesn’t equal the voltage of Elizabeth Rusch’s Electrical Wizard, illustrated by Oliver Dominguez (2013), it generates watts enough to leave readers with a deeper understanding of Tesla’s larger-than-life feats and flaws. Human figures are white throughout, the men sporting picturesque period facial hair.

A well-turned tale with flashes of insight. (glossary, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68446-141-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Editions

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal.

JUST LIKE JESSE OWENS

Before growing up to become a major figure in the civil rights movement, a boy finds a role model.

Buffing up a childhood tale told by her renowned father, Young Shelton describes how young Andrew saw scary men marching in his New Orleans neighborhood (“It sounded like they were yelling ‘Hi, Hitler!’ ”). In response to his questions, his father took him to see a newsreel of Jesse Owens (“a runner who looked like me”) triumphing in the 1936 Olympics. “Racism is a sickness,” his father tells him. “We’ve got to help folks like that.” How? “Well, you can start by just being the best person you can be,” his father replies. “It’s what you do that counts.” In James’ hazy chalk pastels, Andrew joins racially diverse playmates (including a White child with an Irish accent proudly displaying the nickel he got from his aunt as a bribe to stop playing with “those Colored boys”) in tag and other games, playing catch with his dad, sitting in the midst of a cheering crowd in the local theater’s segregated balcony, and finally visualizing himself pelting down a track alongside his new hero—“head up, back straight, eyes focused,” as a thematically repeated line has it, on the finish line. An afterword by Young Shelton explains that she retold this story, told to her many times growing up, drawing from conversations with Young and from her own research; family photos are also included. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal. (illustrator’s note) (Autobiographical picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-545-55465-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: yesterday

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Tantalizing glimpses of hidden natural treasures, with breathtaking art.

CAVES

An invitation to share some of the world’s speleological wonders.

Lit by the flashlights of small visitors, huge, rugged, shadowy spaces beckon in Chock’s powerfully atmospheric illustrations as Beckerman’s accompanying mix of free-verse commentary and blocks of explanations in smaller type turn general impressions into specific sites and sights. Among the latter are the dazzling tangle of giant selenite crystals in Mexico’s Cueva de los Cristales, ancient cave paintings at Lascaux in France, an immense underwater cave system in Florida, and (for truly courageous adventurers) the “silently squirming ceiling” of glowworms in New Zealand’s Waitomo Caves. The author also pays particular tribute to the group of women who ventured into the constricted reaches (judged too narrow for men) of South Africa’s Rising Star cave system to uncover fossils of a new prehistoric cousin, Homo naledi. All around the world caves are waiting “for / wondering, / wandering / explorers / like you,” she concludes. “Do you dare?” For those who might, the book closes with lists of safety rules and recommended caving gear. Tiny spelunkers in the art are nearly all bundled up and facing away from viewers, but some at least are plainly children, and an observation that the floors of some lava tubes in Australia are flat enough for wheelchairs makes Beckerman’s invitation even more inclusive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Tantalizing glimpses of hidden natural treasures, with breathtaking art. (cave facts, author’s and illustrator’s notes, photos) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-72662-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: yesterday

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