THE LITTLE PLANT DOCTOR

A STORY ABOUT GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER

Told in the voice of an old tree at the George Washington Carver National Monument in Diamond, Mo., this fictionalized biography provides a simple—one might even say simplistic—introduction to Carver’s early life. The tree-as-narrator device gets more than a little silly, with the tree proclaiming, “I’m just a tree so I don’t know what a president is,” and, “I don’t know what a computer is,” while it seems to know a lot of other things, like that racial segregation is unjust. Just skimming the surface of Carver’s life and work may have its place in some settings, but most readers will be disappointed in the lack of information provided here as well as by the patronizing tone. Colorful illustrations painted with acrylics brighten the story. Wilson-Max’s folk-art style complements Carver’s life and the period he lived in, giving the book a childlike and rustic appeal. End pages boldly display both the peanut and sweet potato plant complete with labels. Instead of an author’s note there are questions and answers “For Further Discussion.” This section also includes a quote from and photograph of Carver. There are better treatments out there; give this one a miss. (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2325-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering.

THE AMAZING AGE OF JOHN ROY LYNCH

An honestly told biography of an important politician whose name every American should know.

Published while the United States has its first African-American president, this story of John Roy Lynch, the first African-American speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, lays bare the long and arduous path black Americans have walked to obtain equality. The title’s first three words—“The Amazing Age”—emphasize how many more freedoms African-Americans had during Reconstruction than for decades afterward. Barton and Tate do not shy away from honest depictions of slavery, floggings, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws, or the various means of intimidation that whites employed to prevent blacks from voting and living lives equal to those of whites. Like President Barack Obama, Lynch was of biracial descent; born to an enslaved mother and an Irish father, he did not know hard labor until his slave mistress asked him a question that he answered honestly. Freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, Lynch had a long and varied career that points to his resilience and perseverance. Tate’s bright watercolor illustrations often belie the harshness of what takes place within them; though this sometimes creates a visual conflict, it may also make the book more palatable for young readers unaware of the violence African-Americans have suffered than fully graphic images would. A historical note, timeline, author’s and illustrator’s notes, bibliography and map are appended.

A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering. (Picture book biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5379-0

Page Count: 50

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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A lighthearted read that will offer comfort to young children that others too face challenges of friendship, teamwork and...

PARKER BELL AND THE SCIENCE OF FRIENDSHIP

In her debut chapter book, Platt shares the story of a young girl navigating friendships and the challenges of trying to win her school’s science triathlon.

Young Parker Bell is a curious child who loves science and aspires to match up to Mae Jemison and Jane Goodall one day. Her best friend and partner in science is coding whiz Cassie Malouf. They have been best friends since kindergarten, but Parker gets jealous when Cassie suddenly starts becoming friendly with Theo Zachary, a shy boy in their class. Parker worries that Cassie likes Theo more than her, and she fights hard to keep her friend. Matters only get worse when Cassie invites Theo to be part of their team for the science triathlon, which features a science trivia contest, an egg drop, and a presentation. In a somewhat predictable plot, Parker realizes she has a lot in common with Theo as she spends more time with him. Platt works hard to defy gender stereotypes. In addition to the girls’ STEM enthusiasm, Parker’s mom teaches phys ed, her dad owns a bakery, and Cassie’s mom teaches math. Zhai’s simple black-and-white illustrations of Parker, Cassie, and the classrooms provide a good visual aid to the story, depicting Parker and Theo as white and Cassie with dark skin and long black hair.

A lighthearted read that will offer comfort to young children that others too face challenges of friendship, teamwork and competition. (Fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-97347-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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