A delightfully child-friendly and painfully necessary diversification of the science field.

WHOOSH!

LONNIE JOHNSON'S SUPER-SOAKING STREAM OF INVENTIONS

A tinkering African-American boy grows up to become the inventor of a very popular toy.

Lonnie Johnson always tinkered with something. As a kid, he built rockets and launched them in the park amid a crowd of friends. (He even made the rocket’s fuel, which once caught fire in the kitchen. Oops.) As an adult he worked for NASA and helped to power the spacecraft Galileo as it explored Jupiter. But nothing is as memorable in the minds of kids as his most famous invention (to date): the Super-Soaker. While testing out a new cooling method for refrigerators, Johnson accidentally sprayed his entire bathroom, and the idea was born. However, the high-powered water gun was not an instant success. Barton shows the tenacity and dedication (and, sometimes, plain good timing) needed to prove ideas. From the initial blast of water that splashes the word “WHOOSH” across the page (and many pages after) to the gatefold that transforms into the Larami toy executives’ (tellingly, mostly white) reactions—“WOW!”—Tate plays up the pressurized-water imagery to the hilt. In a thoughtful author’s note, Barton explains how Johnson challenges the stereotypical white, Einstein-like vision of a scientist.

A delightfully child-friendly and painfully necessary diversification of the science field. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-58089-297-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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An adorable adventure in cartography.

CAMILLA, CARTOGRAPHER

An exercise of spatial thinking through a snowy forest.

Camilla the warthog collects maps. Maps of stars, New York, even the London Tube. She even owns an ancient map of her forest. Unfortunately for her, she believes all lands have been explored and there is nothing new to chart. However, with a snowy morning comes a new opportunity. When her hedgehog neighbor, Parsley, asks for her help in finding the creek, Camilla quivers with excitement when she realizes the snow-covered land “is uncharted territory.” With all landmarks covered in snow, Camilla and Parsley must use their spatial-reasoning skills and a compass to find a new way to the creek. Their trailblazing journey proves a challenge as they keep bumping into trees, rocks, and walls. But when they find the creek, Camilla will have all the information and tools ready to draw out a new map, to break out in case of another snowfall. Wood’s delightful illustrations and Dillemuth’s expertise in the matter engage readers in the woodland creatures’ adventures. In addition, Dillemuth, who holds a doctorate in geography, provides activities in the backmatter for parents and caregivers to help children develop their own spatial-reasoning skills, such as sketching and reading maps or using cardinal directions.

An adorable adventure in cartography. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4338-3033-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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