A well-crafted tribute to a fascinating aviation pioneer.

FEARLESS FLYER

RUTH LAW AND HER FLYING MACHINE

Lang’s portrait commemorates the centennial of Ruth Law’s record-breaking flight from Chicago to New York.

Law, who performed daredevil tricks for spectators in her Curtiss Pusher biplane, set a higher goal: to best the new nonstop-flight record just set by Victor Carlstrom. Law petitioned Glenn Curtiss for his newest model, which Carlstrom had flown—a large one, with a 205-gallon fuel tank. Curtiss refused, doubting Law’s ability to handle the powerful plane and long flight. Instead, Ruth and her mechanics modified her little open-cockpit biplane, installing a metal wind guard and extra fuel tanks that increased capacity from 16 gallons to 53. (Oddly, Lang omits a significant detail: the plane’s lights were removed to lighten it.) Effectively employing short, staccato phrases, Lang creates a riveting, “you are there” narrative. Law correctly interprets her engine’s sounds, gauges, compass, map, and landmarks, prudently touching down twice before reaching New York City—but after besting Carlstrom’s record. Well-chosen quotes from Law further enliven the text (though two, inserted within the flight’s narrative, predate it). Colón’s rich compositions—in colored pencil and crayon on paper “etched” with swirling lines—use a primary palette of gold and charcoal brown, with layers of turquoise for water and sky. Colón correctly depicts Law’s lever controls; there’s a captioned photo highlighting the detail. Readers may feel the absence of a contextualizing timeline.

A well-crafted tribute to a fascinating aviation pioneer. (author’s note, photographs, bibliography, collections and exhibits, websites, source notes) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62091-650-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

ROBOBABY

Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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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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