Another pointless entry in a series intended to inspire more than inform.

I AM ALBERT EINSTEIN

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

The brilliant 20th-century scientist exhorts readers to keep asking questions.

Meltzer presents Einstein from birth through childhood and adulthood as one who always thought carefully before speaking and loved his head of hair. Apparently, one of the white-haired, mustachioed tot’s first sentences was: “My hair is so AWESOME!” As a young boy, he decides to figure out “Why did the universe behave the way it did?” From there, it is a fast trip to playing the violin, studying math and the famous equation E=mc2, which is not well-explained in the text. Of far greater importance is the exhortation that readers should value curiosity, difference and learning—all of which could lead to inspiration. There is no backmatter and no sourcing for a concluding quotation, but two pages of photographs are credited. The author provides no additional biographical information about Einstein’s incredibly multifaceted life. Eliopoulos’ digitally rendered cartoon illustrations are caricature more than representation. As in previous titles in the series, Einstein has a large, round head; his is adorned with the scientist’s signature mop of white hair and full mustache from birth. It is an oxymoron to include his life in a series about “ordinary people.”

Another pointless entry in a series intended to inspire more than inform. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4084-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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A TREE IS NICE

A nursery school approach to a general concept. "A tree is nice"- Why? Because..."We can climb the tree...play pirate ship...pick the apples...build playhouses out of the leaves. A tree is nice to hang a swing in...Birds build nests in trees... Sticks come off trees...People have picnics there too"...etc. etc. One follows the give and take of a shared succession of reactions to what a tree- or trees- can mean. There is a kind of poetic simplicity that is innate in small children. Marc Simont has made the pictures, half in full color, and they too have a childlike directness (with an underlying sophistication that adults will recognize). Not a book for everyone -but those who like it will like it immensely. The format (6 x 11) makes it a difficult book for shelving, so put it in the "clean hands" section of flat books. Here's your first book for Arbor Day use- a good spring and summer item.

Pub Date: June 15, 1956

ISBN: 978-0-06-443147-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1956

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A memorable life—a forgettable presentation.

I AM JACKIE ROBINSON

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

Baseball’s No. 42 strikes out.

Even as a babe in his mother’s arms, Robinson is depicted wearing his Brooklyn Dodgers baseball cap in this latest entry in the Ordinary People Change the World series. He narrates his childhood alongside cartoon panels that show him as an expert runner and thrower. Racism and poverty are also part of his growing up, along with lessons in sharing and courage. Incredibly, the Negro Leagues are not mentioned beyond a passing reference to “a black team” with a picture of the Kansas City Monarchs next to their team bus (still looking like a child in the illustration, Robinson whines, “Gross! Is this food or goo?”). In 1946, Branch Rickey signs him to play for the Dodgers’ farm team, and the rest, as they say, is history. Robinson concludes his story with an exhortation to readers to be brave, strong and use their “power to do what’s right. / Use that power for a cause that you believe in.” Meltzer writes his inspirational biography as a first-person narrative, which risks being construed and used as an autobiography—which it is not. The digitally rendered cartoon illustrations that show Robinson as a perpetual child fall sadly short of capturing his demeanor and prowess.

A memorable life—a forgettable presentation. (photographs, timeline, sources, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4086-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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