An informative and entertaining title for aspiring young scientists.

STARSTRUCK

THE COSMIC JOURNEY OF NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON

An introduction to the brilliant African-American astrophysicist who, from an early age, found his passion in the skies.

This biography tells of Tyson’s childhood in the Bronx, where he walked dogs to earn money for his first big telescope, through which he viewed the stars from the rooftop of his apartment building, the aptly named Skyview. Mistaking the telescope for a rifle, neighbors often called the police, but Tyson would win the cops over by showing them the stars or his favorite planet, Saturn. The nearby Hayden Planetarium became an important educational space for Tyson, opening up opportunities such as an ocean-liner trip to the northwest African coast with 2,000 scientists to observe a solar eclipse when he was just 14. Attending the Bronx High School of Science, Tyson excelled in science but also in dance and wrestling. After attending Harvard, he returned home to work at Hayden Planetarium, the place where he first glimpsed the stars. Along with other astrophysicists, Tyson remapped the solar system, reclassifying Pluto as a dwarf planet. While the authors’ informative, enthusiastic telling keeps readers interested in Tyson’s nerdy and passionate pursuit of deeper knowledge about all things celestial, the illustrations border on caricature at times and, perhaps as a result, create many inconsistencies in Tyson’s appearance. The recurring starry backgrounds, however, successfully emphasize the importance of stars in Tyson’s life.

An informative and entertaining title for aspiring young scientists. (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-55024-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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An inspiring introduction to the young Nobel Peace Prize winner and a useful conversation starter

MALALA'S MAGIC PENCIL

The latest of many picture books about the young heroine from Pakistan, this one is narrated by Malala herself, with a frame that is accessible to young readers.

Malala introduces her story using a television show she used to watch about a boy with a magic pencil that he used to get himself and his friends out of trouble. Readers can easily follow Malala through her own discovery of troubles in her beloved home village, such as other children not attending school and soldiers taking over the village. Watercolor-and-ink illustrations give a strong sense of setting, while gold ink designs overlay Malala’s hopes onto her often dreary reality. The story makes clear Malala’s motivations for taking up the pen to tell the world about the hardships in her village and only alludes to the attempt on her life, with a black page (“the dangerous men tried to silence me. / But they failed”) and a hospital bracelet on her wrist the only hints of the harm that came to her. Crowds with signs join her call before she is shown giving her famous speech before the United Nations. Toward the end of the book, adult readers may need to help children understand Malala’s “work,” but the message of holding fast to courage and working together is powerful and clear.

An inspiring introduction to the young Nobel Peace Prize winner and a useful conversation starter . (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-31957-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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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

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