RACHEL

THE STORY OF RACHEL CARSON

Ehrlich’s biography of the noted environmentalist covers much ground, from her early years in Pennsylvania, to research at Woods Hole Marine Laboratory, to Maine and her environmental writings. Carson’s first teacher and greatest friend was her mother, who took walks, studied nature, and read with her. At the Pennsylvania College for Women, Carson found a love of biology to match her passion for writing, and it became her excellent writing that brought the natural world to readers. In The Sea Around Us (1951), readers roamed the beautiful and mysterious ocean worlds. Silent Spring (1962) opened eyes to the poisoning of the planet and launched the modern environmental movement. It’s a lot to cover in a small volume, and young readers may find the text sketchy and disjointed. In several spots, personal feelings or thoughts are attributed to Carson but are undocumented: “her thoughts turning like waves”; “she felt helpless, as lost as the firefly”; “Rachel, who loved the world so much, was frightened and angry.” Such problems mar this lovely tribute to an important writer unknown to the intended young audience. Minor’s watercolor and gouache paintings, with their phosphorescent colors, outshine the text in portraying the beauties of the world—woods, mountains, and coastlines from Cape Cod to Maine. Young readers will love the illustrations and enjoy the true story of a woman of passion and courage. Maybe Carson’s sense of wonder will inspire future environmentalists. (bibliography, epilogue) (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-15-216227-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Silver Whistle/Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2003

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Cool and stylish.

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ADA TWIST, SCIENTIST

Her intellectual curiosity is surpassed only by her passion for science. But what to do about her messy experiments?

Ada is speechless until she turns 3. But once she learns how to break out of her crib, there’s no stopping the kinky-haired, brown-skinned girl. “She tore through the house on a fact-finding spree.” When she does start speaking, her favorite words are “why,” “how,” and “when.” Her parents, a fashion-forward black couple who sport a variety of trendy outfits, are dumbfounded, and her older brother can only point at her in astonishment. She amazes her friends with her experiments. Ada examines all the clocks in the house, studies the solar system, and analyzes all the smells she encounters. Fortunately, her parents stop her from putting the cat in the dryer, sending her instead to the Thinking Chair. But while there, she covers the wall with formulae. What can her parents do? Instead of punishing her passion, they decide to try to understand it. “It’s all in the heart of a young scientist.” Though her plot is negligible—Ada’s parents arguably change more than she does—Beaty delightfully advocates for girls in science in her now-trademark crisply rhyming text. Roberts’ illustrations, in watercolor, pen, and ink, manage to be both smart and silly; the page compositions artfully evoke the tumult of Ada’s curiosity, filling white backgrounds with questions and clutter.

Cool and stylish. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2137-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the...

ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER

Rhymed couplets convey the story of a girl who likes to build things but is shy about it. Neither the poetry nor Rosie’s projects always work well.

Rosie picks up trash and oddments where she finds them, stashing them in her attic room to work on at night. Once, she made a hat for her favorite zookeeper uncle to keep pythons away, and he laughed so hard that she never made anything publicly again. But when her great-great-aunt Rose comes to visit and reminds Rosie of her own past building airplanes, she expresses her regret that she still has not had the chance to fly. Great-great-aunt Rose is visibly modeled on Rosie the Riveter, the iconic, red-bandanna–wearing poster woman from World War II. Rosie decides to build a flying machine and does so (it’s a heli-o-cheese-copter), but it fails. She’s just about to swear off making stuff forever when Aunt Rose congratulates her on her failure; now she can go on to try again. Rosie wears her hair swooped over one eye (just like great-great-aunt Rose), and other figures have exaggerated hairdos, tiny feet and elongated or greatly rounded bodies. The detritus of Rosie’s collections is fascinating, from broken dolls and stuffed animals to nails, tools, pencils, old lamps and possibly an erector set. And cheddar-cheese spray.

Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the right place. (historical note) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0845-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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