A beautifully told story of a young woman with lofty aspirations.

LIGHTER THAN AIR

SOPHIE BLANCHARD, THE FIRST WOMAN PILOT

A fascination with hot air balloons has hit late-18th-century Paris, and young Sophie Armant dreams of joining those bold aeronauts.

Sophie especially admires the daredevil Jean-Pierre Blanchard, who, with John Jeffries, was the first to cross the English Channel in a balloon. Sophie, however, is told that “Women were made of weaker stuff. Their place was on earth.” But she meets and marries Blanchard, and they fly together until his death, when she begins to fly alone, becoming the first woman pilot. Toward the end of her career, Sophie reflects on the limits the world puts on women and realizes that “There is a limit. And that limit is the sky.” Smith’s prose—rich, poetic, and strong on active verbs—is a fine match for Tavares’ gorgeous ink-and-watercolor illustrations, which focus on Sophie and the skies, his palette pairing Sophie’s moods with the colors of the skies. The other stars—the balloons themselves—are dazzling, with intricate lines, rich colors, and swelling bags ready to go aloft. His strong, monumental style and steady lines give even the most perilous-looking of Sophie’s aerial perches comforting stability—even as she sets off fireworks from the air. An author’s note adds information, including a note on Sophie’s tragic death.

A beautifully told story of a young woman with lofty aspirations. (illustrator’s note, bibliography) (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7732-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering.

THE AMAZING AGE OF JOHN ROY LYNCH

An honestly told biography of an important politician whose name every American should know.

Published while the United States has its first African-American president, this story of John Roy Lynch, the first African-American speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, lays bare the long and arduous path black Americans have walked to obtain equality. The title’s first three words—“The Amazing Age”—emphasize how many more freedoms African-Americans had during Reconstruction than for decades afterward. Barton and Tate do not shy away from honest depictions of slavery, floggings, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws, or the various means of intimidation that whites employed to prevent blacks from voting and living lives equal to those of whites. Like President Barack Obama, Lynch was of biracial descent; born to an enslaved mother and an Irish father, he did not know hard labor until his slave mistress asked him a question that he answered honestly. Freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, Lynch had a long and varied career that points to his resilience and perseverance. Tate’s bright watercolor illustrations often belie the harshness of what takes place within them; though this sometimes creates a visual conflict, it may also make the book more palatable for young readers unaware of the violence African-Americans have suffered than fully graphic images would. A historical note, timeline, author’s and illustrator’s notes, bibliography and map are appended.

A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering. (Picture book biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5379-0

Page Count: 50

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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Informative, empowering, and fun.

ROX'S SECRET CODE

Girl power abounds in this book about coding that introduces young readers to the world of programming while offering them hands-on activities via a companion app.

In this title that was first introduced as a customizable, personalized print-on-demand product, Rox has a superpower. Using code, she programs toy robots that can do things like make broccoli disappear—or mischief. When Dad tells Rox to clean her room, she quickly thinks up a bot that will do it for her, writing code that instructs her bot to use artificial intelligence to sort objects by color and type. Though Rox knows that there’s a high potential for her creation to rebel, the perks outweigh any potential adverse effects. Rox’s robot has her room neat and tidy in no time—and then the entire home. Chorebot’s AI allows it to keep learning, and it seems Chorebot can do no wrong until the robot decides to rearrange the entire city (both buildings and people) by type, style, and gender. Chorebot goes “out of his artificial mind!” Rox must now stop her creation…without the assistance of the internet. The artwork, styled in the tradition of popular superhero series, is peppy and colorful, and it depicts Rox as an adorable black girl donning a black bomber jacket and a pink tutu. A companion app (not available for review) allows readers to create a bot of their own.

Informative, empowering, and fun. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-57687-899-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: POW!

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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