An important if sometimes-awkward study of two scientists who helped to change the world.

RADIOACTIVE!

HOW IRÈNE CURIE AND LISE MEITNER REVOLUTIONIZED SCIENCE AND CHANGED THE WORLD

“Radioactivity was the first new property of matter discovered since Sir Isaac Newton defined the law of gravity in 1686,” and the work of Irène Curie and Lise Meitner in the early 20th century helped to open the door to modern physics.

Irène Curie was the firstborn child of the world’s “ ‘First Family’ of science.” Lise Meitner was the daughter of a Jewish lawyer in Vienna and a victim of Hitler’s anti-Semitic policies. Curie and Meitner, working independently, were research rivals, each seeking a name in the field of theoretical physics that was about to change the world. Conkling discusses the two scientists separately, Curie in the first several chapters, Meitner in the next several, and their stories come together in a final section when the race to create an atomic bomb was on. It’s an uneasy blend of biographies, though astute readers will see that it’s the science itself that links the stories, not a personal connection between Curie and Meitner. Readers interested in a more succinct and compelling look at Meitner’s work on fission than what’s presented here will find it in Steve Sheinkin’s Bomb (2012). Flat writing and too many pages of dense text unrelieved by photographs or other visuals mar a volume that might have been suspenseful.

An important if sometimes-awkward study of two scientists who helped to change the world. (timeline, glossary, who’s who, chapter notes, bibliography, for more information, index) (Nonfiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61620-415-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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An engaging, admiring, and insightful portrait of an uncompromising, civic-minded, visionary artist.

MAYA LIN

THINKING WITH HER HANDS

One of the world’s most celebrated creators of civic architecture is profiled in this accessible, engaging biography.

Similar in style and format to her Everybody Paints!: The Lives and Art of the Wyeth Family (2014) and Wideness and Wonder: The Life and Art of Georgia O’Keeffe (2011), Rubin’s well-researched profile examines the career, creative processes, and career milestones of Maya Lin. Rubin discusses at length Lin’s most famous achievement, designing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Chinese-American Lin was a reserved college student who entered and won the competition to design and build the memorial. Her youth and ethnicity were subjects of great controversy, and Rubin discusses how Lin fought to ensure her vision of the memorial remained intact. Other notable works by Lin, including the Civil Rights Memorial for the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, a library and chapel for the Children’s Defense Fund, the Museum of Chinese in America, and the outdoor Wave Field project are examined but not in as much depth as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Attractively designed, the book is illustrated extensively with color photos and drawings.

An engaging, admiring, and insightful portrait of an uncompromising, civic-minded, visionary artist. (bibliography, source notes, index) (Biography. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4521-0837-7

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Broad, deep, and on a significant topic but more utilitarian than inspirational.

DRAWING THE VOTE

A GRAPHIC NOVEL HISTORY FOR FUTURE VOTERS

A history of U.S. voting rights and the unrelenting barrage of challenges to them, with a chapter that updates the original 2020 edition.

Despite an occasional bobble (no, all the states did not send representatives to the Constitutional Convention, and the Shelby County vs. Holder decision, devastating as it was, was not responsible for “overturning” the Voting Rights Act), college professor Jenkins delivers a broadly comprehensive overview that takes readers from “No taxation without representation!” to the events of Jan. 6, 2021 and beyond, with updates covering the failure of the Arizona recount and the recent flurry of legislation designed to further depress our already chronically low levels of voter participation. The additions lend currency to the story, but apathetic readers are more likely to catch a spark from other histories, such as Susan Goldman Rubin’s Give Us the Vote! (2020). The graphic format does little to animate this account, as aside from some redrawn historical news photos, the drably duotone art runs to clumsily rendered portraits of figures in static poses stiffly restating talking points, uttering (in)famous quotes (“Why do we want all these people from shithole countries?”)—or in a running conceit, imitating game show announcers: “Congratulations! John Adams, you’ve won the presidency!” The color scheme also minimizes differences in skin color, and visual elements frequently look crammed in among the fulsome blocks of lecture-y narrative.

Broad, deep, and on a significant topic but more utilitarian than inspirational. (voting information, source notes) (Graphic nonfiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3999-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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