ALBERT EINSTEIN

A LIFE OF GENIUS

MacLeod (Lucy Maud Montgomery, 2001, etc.) covers a lot of ground in this brief biography of Albert Einstein: school, early career in a Swiss patent office, early days as a professor in Bern, becoming friends with Marie Curie, choosing work over family, WWII and the move to Princeton, New Jersey, and the post-war years as a citizen of the world. Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity is described as “the first really new thing about the force of gravity since Newton’s original ideas 250 years earlier,” and the author does an excellent job of describing the theory for a young audience. Einstein’s legacy is explained in clear, specific terms: the discovery of pulsars and black holes, the big bang theory, and the development of nuclear power, radiation therapy, lasers, fluorescent lights, and automatic doors. Beyond its exposition of Einstein’s work, this is an ode to hard work, imagination, and creative thinking. Included are the difficult moral decisions of Einstein’s life, especially the letter he wrote to FDR that led to the Manhattan project, which Einstein later called “the greatest mistake of my life.” The lively mix of text, sidebars, photographs, newspaper excerpts, equations, and Einstein’s handwritten notes adds up to a format inviting browsing and offering much information to closer readers. A cartoon of Albert on each spread presents additional information in speech bubbles and adds a touch of levity to what could have been a heavy text. Though no bibliography is included, John B. Severance’s Einstein: Visionary Scientist would make a good companion. A useful addition to collections for young readers. (timeline, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 1-55337-396-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2003

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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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BROWN GIRL DREAMING

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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Charming, poignant, and thoughtfully woven.

CLUES TO THE UNIVERSE

An aspiring scientist and a budding artist become friends and help each other with dream projects.

Unfolding in mid-1980s Sacramento, California, this story stars 12-year-olds Rosalind and Benjamin as first-person narrators in alternating chapters. Ro’s father, a fellow space buff, was killed by a drunk driver; the rocket they were working on together lies unfinished in her closet. As for Benji, not only has his best friend, Amir, moved away, but the comic book holding the clue for locating his dad is also missing. Along with their profound personal losses, the protagonists share a fixation with the universe’s intriguing potential: Ro decides to complete the rocket and hopes to launch mementos of her father into outer space while Benji’s conviction that aliens and UFOs are real compels his imagination and creativity as an artist. An accident in science class triggers a chain of events forcing Benji and Ro, who is new to the school, to interact and unintentionally learn each other’s secrets. They resolve to find Benji’s dad—a famous comic-book artist—and partner to finish Ro’s rocket for the science fair. Together, they overcome technical, scheduling, and geographical challenges. Readers will be drawn in by amusing and fantastical elements in the comic book theme, high emotional stakes that arouse sympathy, and well-drawn character development as the protagonists navigate life lessons around grief, patience, self-advocacy, and standing up for others. Ro is biracial (Chinese/White); Benji is White.

Charming, poignant, and thoughtfully woven. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-300888-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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