This view into Procter’s brief life connects her early passion for reptiles with her innovative career combining scientific...

JOAN PROCTER, DRAGON DOCTOR

THE WOMAN WHO LOVED REPTILES

Valdez introduces Joan Procter, whose lifelong love of reptiles yielded a career at London’s Natural History Museum and the London Zoo.

Avid for reptiles from childhood, Joan received a crocodile for her 16th birthday. First assisting, then succeeding the museum’s curator of reptiles, Joan surveyed the collections, published papers, and made models for exhibits. Her designs for the zoo’s reptile house incorporated innovative lighting and heating as well as plants and artwork evoking the reptiles’ habitats. Joan’s reputation soared with the arrival of two 7-foot-long Komodo dragons, coinciding with the reptile house’s opening. Presenting a paper at the Zoological Society, Joan brought along one of them, Sumbawa, who ate a pigeon whole and strolled among attendees. Valdez’s narrative alludes to Procter’s poor health obliquely: pet reptiles cheered her “on the days Joan was too sick to attend school,” and a later spread depicts her “riding through the zoo” in a wheelchair. (An appended note explains that a “chronic intestinal illness” led to Joan’s death at just 34.) Sala portrays stylized reptiles and 1920s-era British clothing. People’s skin tones range from stark white to various tans and browns. Indeed, although she was white, Joan’s skin varies throughout, sometimes appearing white and pink and others times various shades of beige.

This view into Procter’s brief life connects her early passion for reptiles with her innovative career combining scientific research, practice, art, and design. (author’s note, bibliography of primary sources, photographs) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-55725-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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Blandly laudatory.

I AM WALT DISNEY

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

The iconic animator introduces young readers to each “happy place” in his life.

The tally begins with his childhood home in Marceline, Missouri, and climaxes with Disneyland (carefully designed to be “the happiest place on Earth”), but the account really centers on finding his true happy place, not on a map but in drawing. In sketching out his early flubs and later rocket to the top, the fictive narrator gives Ub Iwerks and other Disney studio workers a nod (leaving his labor disputes with them unmentioned) and squeezes in quick references to his animated films, from Steamboat Willie to Winnie the Pooh (sans Fantasia and Song of the South). Eliopoulos incorporates stills from the films into his cartoon illustrations and, characteristically for this series, depicts Disney as a caricature, trademark mustache in place on outsized head even in childhood years and child sized even as an adult. Human figures default to white, with occasional people of color in crowd scenes and (ahistorically) in the animation studio. One unidentified animator builds up the role-modeling with an observation that Walt and Mickey were really the same (“Both fearless; both resourceful”). An assertion toward the end—“So when do you stop being a child? When you stop dreaming”—muddles the overall follow-your-bliss message. A timeline to the EPCOT Center’s 1982 opening offers photos of the man with select associates, rodent and otherwise. An additional series entry, I Am Marie Curie, publishes simultaneously, featuring a gowned, toddler-sized version of the groundbreaking physicist accepting her two Nobel prizes.

Blandly laudatory. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2875-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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A winning heads up for younger readers just becoming aware of the wider natural world.

DON'T LET THEM DISAPPEAR

An appeal to share concern for 12 familiar but threatened, endangered, or critically endangered animal species.

The subjects of Marino’s intimate, close-up portraits—fairly naturalistically rendered, though most are also smiling, glancing up at viewers through human eyes, and posed at rest with a cute youngling on lap or flank—steal the show. Still, Clinton’s accompanying tally of facts about each one’s habitat and daily routines, to which the title serves as an ongoing refrain, adds refreshingly unsentimental notes: “A single giraffe kick can kill a lion!”; “[S]hivers of whale sharks can sense a drop of blood if it’s in the water nearby, though they eat mainly plankton.” Along with tucking in collective nouns for each animal (some not likely to be found in major, or any, dictionaries: an “embarrassment” of giant pandas?), the author systematically cites geographical range, endangered status, and assumed reasons for that status, such as pollution, poaching, or environmental change. She also explains the specific meaning of “endangered” and some of its causes before closing with a set of doable activities (all uncontroversial aside from the suggestion to support and visit zoos) and a list of international animal days to celebrate.

A winning heads up for younger readers just becoming aware of the wider natural world. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51432-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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