A thought-provoking telling of an unusual historical episode.

BOARDWALK BABIES

Premature babies as a sideshow attraction?

Kids will be amazed to learn that a “Baby Incubator” exhibit opened at Coney Island in 1903, attracting huge crowds. Spectators flocked to ogle tiny newborns and the groundbreaking technology—the “warming boxes” themselves—designed to keep premature babies alive. Back then, medical wisdom held that tiny, fragile newborns couldn’t survive, and hospitals, skeptical of newfangled machines, wouldn’t use them. German-born Dr. Martin Couney believed otherwise. His own mentor in Paris had suggested using incubators for preemies, and Couney at first demonstrated the machines without babies at the Berlin Exposition of 1896. In order to help the public better understand that they really worked effectively, Couney then placed infants in them. This enhanced exhibit succeeded wildly, and the babies survived. In 1903, Couney established what became a permanent preemie hospital display, complete with incubators, on Coney Island’s boardwalk. The newborns received round-the-clock nursing care, with admission fees paying for food, treatment, equipment, and medical personnel; it closed in 1943. This smoothly written account of little-known events results in a heartwarming story that will help develop audience empathy. Appealing illustrations capture the period and ambiance nicely and depict winsome infants of different races and ethnicities. Dr. Couney, his family, and medical professionals present White; spectators throughout are racially diverse. Questionable, startling endpaper art depicts “weird folks” once placed on public display as sideshow attractions.

A thought-provoking telling of an unusual historical episode. (author's note, select bibliography) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-939547-66-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Creston

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An amiable point-counterpoint for budding animal lovers/haters.

THE NOT BAD ANIMALS

Forty-two creatures of ill repute, from scorpions to hyenas, put on their best faces and protest that they’re just misunderstood.

In paired double-page spreads, Corrigan first presents for each animal the case for considering it scary or gross, then, with the page turn, allows it to contradict itself. “I’m creepy and I’m crawly,” a spider supposedly gloats. “I spin webs from my butt and leave them in places where I KNOW you’ll get stuck in them.” In the following spread, the spider points out that “Only half of my kind spin webs, and we really, REALLY don’t want you to get stuck in them!” Along with pointing to roles in the natural order and including many crowd-pleasing references to butts and poop, these counterarguments tend to run along the lines of the rat’s “I’m a fluffy little SWEETIE!” and the toad’s “I am a plump lump of CUTENESS!” Each testimonial is backed up by a box of background information baldly labeled “FACTS.” Readers may find the chorus of smiley faces and claims of adorability unconvincing, but they will at least come away with more nuanced impressions of each creepy-crawly. The humorous cartoon illustrations don’t measure up to the in-your-face photos of Seymour Simon’s classic Animals Nobody Loves (2001), but this gallery of beasties unfairly regarded as “icky and ewwy and downright gross” is considerably broader.

An amiable point-counterpoint for budding animal lovers/haters. (glossary) (Nonfiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4748-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

more