An inspirational must-read for budding scientists and those who teach them.

OUT OF SCHOOL AND INTO NATURE

THE ANNA COMSTOCK STORY

Slade and Lanan bring the biography of scientist Anna Comstock to young readers.

A true story about an early champion of nature education, this beautifully illustrated watercolor picture book introduces young readers to Anna Botsford Comstock, a white woman born in 1854. At a time when girls were expected to get married, then stick close to home and take care of their families, Anna’s “heart belonged to her first love—nature.” She attended Cornell University to study entomology and also honed her artistic craft in drawing insects. Anna Comstock insisted that New York state integrate nature study into classroom lessons and allow children to experience nature while in school. “People thought she was crazy. Didn’t she know school rules? Students learn inside. Students play outside!” But eventually, Anna’s ideas prevailed, and science and nature remain vital aspects of American education today, in part because of Anna’s early advocacy. The story opens with a barefoot Anna sitting on a fallen log, dipping her toes into the water, and it ends with Anna as an old woman, perched on that same log with her feet and the bottom of her skirt dangling in the water. Quotes from her writing augment the illustrations in a complementary display type. The informative backmatter fills in more details about the life and accomplishments of this naturalist, writer, scholar, and forward-thinking female pioneer.

An inspirational must-read for budding scientists and those who teach them. (notes, bibliography) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58536-9-867

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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A beautifully designed book that will resonate with children and the adults who wisely share it with them.

NELSON MANDELA

An inspirational ode to the life of the great South African leader by an award-winning author and illustrator.

Mandela’s has been a monumental life, a fact made clear on the front cover, which features an imposing, full-page portrait. The title is on the rear cover. His family gave him the Xhosa name Rolihlahla, but his schoolteacher called him Nelson. Later, he was sent to study with village elders who told him stories about his beautiful and fertile land, which was conquered by European settlers with more powerful weapons. Then came apartheid, and his protests, rallies and legal work for the cause of racial equality led to nearly 30 years of imprisonment followed at last by freedom for Mandela and for all South Africans. “The ancestors, / The people, / The world, / Celebrated.” Nelson’s writing is spare, poetic, and grounded in empathy and admiration. His oil paintings on birch plywood are muscular and powerful. Dramatic moments are captured in shifting perspectives; a whites-only beach is seen through a wide-angle lens, while faces behind bars and faces beaming in final victory are masterfully portrayed in close-up.

A beautifully designed book that will resonate with children and the adults who wisely share it with them. (author’s note, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-178374-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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Stirring encouragement for all “little people” with “big dreams.” (Picture book/biography. 5-7)

MAYA ANGELOU

From the Little People, BIG DREAMS series

“There’s nothing I can’t be,” young Maya thinks, and then shows, in this profile for newly independent readers, imported from Spain.

The inspirational message is conveyed through a fine skein of biographical details. It begins with her birth in St. Louis and the prejudice she experienced growing up in a small Arkansas town and closes with her reading of a poem “about her favorite thing: hope” at Bill Clinton’s presidential inauguration. In between, it mentions the (unspecified) “attack” by her mother’s boyfriend and subsequent elective muteness she experienced as a child, as well as some of the varied pursuits that preceded her eventual decision to become a writer. Kaiser goes on in a closing spread to recap Angelou’s life and career, with dates, beneath a quartet of portrait photos. Salaberria’s simple illustrations, filled with brown-skinned figures, are more idealized than photorealistic, but, though only in the cover image do they make direct contact with readers’, Angelou’s huge eyes are an effective focal point in each scene. The message is similar in the co-published Amelia Earhart, written by Ma Isabel Sánchez Vegara (and also translated by Pitt), but the pictures are more fanciful as illustrator Mariadiamantes endows the aviator with a mane of incandescent orange hair and sends her flying westward (in contradiction of the text and history) on her final around-the-world flight.

Stirring encouragement for all “little people” with “big dreams.” (Picture book/biography. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-84780-889-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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