An excellent, entertaining choice to highlight social-emotional skills, history, and STEM.

SAMUEL MORSE, THAT'S WHO!

THE STORY OF THE TELEGRAPH AND MORSE CODE

“Who created instant messages and changed the world forever?”

Lively, fact-based text and energetic, kid-friendly illustrations capture the feeling of a past era to present the story of frustrated artist and creative inventor Samuel Morse. Setting the scene quickly so youngsters can jump right in, Maurer good-naturedly portrays Morse’s artistic snobbery and vision, his not-so-successful experiments with invention, his interest in innovation, his willingness to take risks, his inquiring mind, and his resilience, presenting her subject as a real person to identify with rather than a flawless hero to be coolly admired. This is not a tale of diversity; the cast of characters is primarily male and white, though there are some women and people of color in the background. Periodic questions about Morse’s ideas appear within the story, clarifying Morse’s historical role and allowing for the repeated, titular refrain: “Samuel Morse, that’s who!” By breaking down the invention of the telegraph into steps that readers will easily understand, the text effectively explains how the invention works as well as how it came to be, and young readers and listeners just may be inspired to try some inventing of their own. Backmatter includes a timeline, bibliography, additional facts, and an author’s note. For readers who are able to remove the jacket, there is a Morse code chart on its reverse.

An excellent, entertaining choice to highlight social-emotional skills, history, and STEM. (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62779-130-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A lovely 20th-anniversary tribute to the towers and all who perished—and survived.

SURVIVOR TREE

A remarkable tree stands where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once soared.

Through simple, tender text, readers learn the life-affirming story of a Callery pear tree that grew and today still flourishes “at the foot of the towers.” The author eloquently describes the pre-9/11 life of the “Survivor Tree” and its heartening, nearly decadelong journey to renewal following its recovery from the wreckage of the towers’ destruction. By tracking the tree’s journey through the natural cycle of seasonal changes and colors after it was found beneath “the blackened remains,” she tells how, after replanting and with loving care (at a nursery in the Bronx), the tree managed miraculously to flourish again. Retransplanted at the Sept. 11 memorial, it valiantly stands today, a symbol of new life and resilience. Hazy, delicate watercolor-and–colored pencil artwork powerfully traces the tree’s existence before and after the towers’ collapse; early pages include several snapshotlike insets capturing people enjoying the outdoors through the seasons. Scenes depicting the towers’ ruins are aptly somber yet hopeful, as they show the crushed tree still defiantly alive. The vivid changes that new seasons introduce are lovingly presented, reminding readers that life unceasingly renews itself. Many paintings are cast in a rosy glow, symbolizing that even the worst disasters can bring forth hope. People depicted are racially diverse. Backmatter material includes additional facts about the tree.

A lovely 20th-anniversary tribute to the towers and all who perished—and survived. (author's note, artist's note) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-48767-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more