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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Together with its companions, too rushed to be first introductions but suitable as second ones.

MARIE CURIE AND RADIOACTIVITY

From the Graphic Science Biographies series

A highlights reel of the great scientist’s life and achievements, from clandestine early schooling to the founding of Warsaw’s Radium Institute.

In big sequential panels Bayarri dashes through Curie’s career, barely pausing at significant moments (“Mother! A letter just arrived. It’s from Sweden,” announces young Irène. “Oh, really?…They’re awarding me another Nobel!”) in a seeming rush to cover her youth, family life, discoveries, World War I work, and later achievements (with only a closing timeline noting her death, of “aplastic anemia”). Button-eyed but recognizable figures in the panels pour out lecture-ish dialogue. This is well stocked with names and scientific terms but offered with little or no context—characteristics shared by co-published profiles on Albert Einstein and the Theory of Relativity (“You and your thought experiments, Albert!” “We love it! The other day, Schrödinger thought up one about a cat”), Charles Darwin and the Theory of Evolution, and Isaac Newton and the Laws of Motion. Dark-skinned Tierra del Fuegans make appearances in Darwin, prompting the young naturalist to express his strong anti-slavery views; otherwise the cast is white throughout the series. Engagingly informal as the art and general tone of the narratives are, the books will likely find younger readers struggling to keep up, but kids already exposed to the names and at least some of the concepts will find these imports, translated from the Basque, helpful if, at times, dry overviews.

Together with its companions, too rushed to be first introductions but suitable as second ones. (glossary, index, resource list) (Graphic biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-7821-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Graphic Universe

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Just the ticket for mechanically curious kids.

MARVELOUS MACHINES

A MAGIC LENS BOOK

A detachable acetate eyepiece lets budding engineers peek into buildings, the inner workings of vehicles from bicycles to submarines, and even a human torso.

Peering through the colored spyglass embedded in the front cover at Lozano’s cartoon scenes makes large areas of red stippling or crosshatching disappear, revealing electrical wiring and other infrastructure in or under buildings, robots at work on an assembly line, the insides of a jet and a container ship, and other hidden areas or facilities. Though younger viewers will get general pictures of how, for instance, internal-combustion (but not electric) cars are propelled, what MRIs and ultrasound scans reveal, and the main steps in printing and binding books, overall the visual detail is radically simplified in Lozano’s assemblages of cartoon images. Likewise, the sheaves of descriptive captions are light on specifics—noting that airplane wings create lift but neglecting to explain just how, say, or why maglev train magnets are supercooled. Still, Wilsher introduces simple machines at the outset (five of the six, anyway), and the ensuing selection of complex ones is current enough to include a spy drone and Space X’s Falcon 9 rocket. Along with displaying a range of skin tones, the human cast of machine users visible in most scenes includes an astronomer wearing a hijab. All in all, it’s a revealing, if sketchy, roll toward David Macaulay’s The Way Things Work Now (2016).

Just the ticket for mechanically curious kids. (Informational novelty. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-912920-20-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: What on Earth Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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