BRIGHT DREAMS

THE BRILLIANT IDEAS OF NIKOLA TESLA

A well-turned tale with flashes of insight.

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 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

I AM RUTH BADER GINSBURG

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

Quick and slick, but ably makes its case.

The distinguished jurist stands tall as a role model.

Not literally tall, of course—not only was she actually tiny but, as with all the other bobbleheaded caricatures in the “Ordinary People Change the World” series, Ginsburg, sporting huge eyeglasses on an outsize head over black judicial robes even in childhood, remains a doll-like figure in all of Eliopoulos’ cartoon scenes. It’s in the frank acknowledgment of the sexism and antisemitism she resolutely overcame as she went from reading about “real female heroes” to becoming one—and also the clear statement of how she so brilliantly applied the principle of “tikkun olam” (“repairing the world”) in her career to the notion that women and men should have the same legal rights—that her stature comes clear. For all the brevity of his profile, Meltzer spares some attention for her private life, too (“This is Marty. He loved me, and he loved my brains. So I married him!”). Other judicial activists of the past and present, all identified and including the current crop of female Supreme Court justices, line up with a diversely hued and abled group of younger followers to pay tribute in final scenes. “Fight for the things you care about,” as a typically savvy final quote has it, “but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

Quick and slick, but ably makes its case. (timeline, photos, source list, further reading) (Picture-book biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2024

ISBN: 9780593533338

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Rocky Pond Books/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023

JUST LIKE JESSE OWENS

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

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 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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