Book review: Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women, by Catherine Thimmesh, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Thimmesh, Catherine. Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women. Illus. by Melissa Sweet. HMH, 2000, 2018. Updated edition. $17.99. 106p. ISBN 978-1-328-77253-4. Ages 8-12. P8Q9

From the popularity of Ruth Wakefield’s Toll House Cookie recipe in 1930 to Alice Brooks and Bettina Chen’s Roominate, a toy to encourage girls to build and use circuits, these 15 profiles of women innovators describe how they made lives better through their curiosity and creations. The seven additions to the 2000 version include women and girls’ innovations in solar, waste management, cyberbullying prevention, and drought while eight earlier inventor such as windshield wipers and Kevlar are retained.

Verdict: The lively style of illustrations by a Caldecott Honor winner and accessible format have been retained with the advantage of more diversity of subjects in ethnic background and age that reflect fast-growing technology during the 21st century. Recommended for middle-school libraries.

Fall 2018 review by Nel Ward.


Book review: Crossing Niagara: The Death-Defying Tightrope Adventures of the Great Blondin, by Matt Tavares

Tavares, Matt. Crossing Niagara: The Death-Defying Tightrope Adventures of the Great Blondin. (Candlewick Biographies). Candlewick, 2016. $14.99. 33p. ISBN 978-1-5362-0341-7. Ages 6-9+. P9Q8

The following review is for the original larger-format title from 2016: In the summers of 1859 and 1860, Jean François Gravelet, known as the Great Blondin, thrilled huge crowds when he made a one-fourth mile journey across the top of Niagara Falls from the U.S. to Canada—and back—on a three-inch rope. Each time, he added to the challenges, one time carrying a man on his shoulders. When his dangerous feats no longer attracted crowds, he left for other adventures. The author’s large gorgeous watercolors dramatically illustrate Blondin’s careful preparations and complexity of his bravery, and a gatefold provides a look into his tricks, including the use of stilts and a chair. A brief author’s note and list of resources completes the tale.

Verdict: The larger format is more suitable for the sweeping images; stick to that one.

Fall 2018 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Pasando Páginas: La historia de me vida, by Sonia Sotomayor, illustrated by Lulu Delacre, translated by Teresa Mlawer

Sotomayor, Sonia. Pasando Páginas: La historia de me vida. Illustrated by Lulu Delacre. Translated by Teresa Mlawer. Philomel Books, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 9780525515494. Unpaged. Ages 7-10. P9 Q10

In the Spanish version of Turning Pages: My Life Story, Sonia Sotomayor shares the story of her life and all she experiences that leads up to her becoming the first Latina Supreme Court Justice. In the English edition, she explains the meaning of cultural words while in the Spanish version, no explanation is needed. In the English edition, it mentions the Catholic High School she attended while the Spanish edition omits it. The phrases in the Spanish edition create a more positive message, for example, the English edition reads, “Fix and try harder to be better” while the Spanish edition reads, “Put things right and try harder.” The ending differs in the following way, “It is what I am” and “This is my responsibility.” The translator took liberty with sentence structure and wording. While the words are not exactly the same, the same image appears in one’s mind. The idiomatic phrases are unique to each language. The words in the Spanish edition flows better than the English edition, even though the English edition was written first. Having read both the English and Spanish editions, I would prefer the Spanish edition since it comes across as warmer and more familial in Spanish. The illustrations are the same in both editions and work equally well.

Verdict: This book contains a lot of information and may be difficult for some children to read. Children may not gravitate on their own to this book, but they may find it interesting if an adult read it to them. This is an inspirational book on starting out with very little and creating, with hard work, a life that greatly influences others. I recommend this book for elementary school libraries.

September 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Inspector Croc’s Emotion-O-Meter, by Susanna Isern, illustrated by Monica Carretero

Isern, Susanna. Inspector Croc’s Emotion-O-Meter. Illustrated by Monica Carretero. NubeOCHO, 2018. 97 pages. ISBN 978-84-17123-07-9. Ages 6-10. P8 Q9

We all have emotions, but how do we explain those emotions to children so they can fully understand and learn to identify them? Inspector Croc is a specialist on emotions who teaches children how to identify, measure and manage emotions. The book consists of 10 short stories or cases with a section that analyzes each story. The emotion-o-meter, with the 3 levels of intensity for each emotion is very helpful. Emotions include joy, sadness, anger, fear, envy, jealousy, surprise, shame, disgust, and love. Included are recipes for dealing with each emotion. Illustrations include animals and creatures from the short stories. This is not a book that young children will read, but a book for adults to read with children. Great for exploring emotions in a fun and non-threatening way. Explains each emotion, low/medium/high intensity and what each level feels and looks like. Emotions are explained in detail, including what they look like and feel like. The book was originally written in Spanish with the title El Emocionometro del Inspector Drilo.

Verdict: With the explanation of all the emotions, the intensity levels, and the emotion-o-meter, this book is a useful tool to help children learn about their emotions. The back cover of the book has an emotion-o-meter that children can use to identify their level of intensity of each of the emotions. I highly recommend this book for elementary age children.

September 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Hello, My Name Is…: How Adorabilis Got His Name, by Marisa Polansky, pictures by Joey Chou

Polansky, Marisa. Hello, My Name Is…: How Adorabilis Got His Name. Pictures by Joey Chou. Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 9780374305062. Unp. Ages 3-7. P7 Q8

In Hello, My Name Is… we follow a cute pink creature as it searches for its name. Along the way, we meet several sea creatures and learn their common names and why they have them. After exploring the pink creature’s many attributes, we learn that it is Adorabilis, a type of flapjack octopus discovered in 2015 by researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The animals and scenery in the book are depicted with prominent angles, bright colors, and plenty of contrast. A picture of the actual adorabilis, a brief description of taxonomy, and the history of Opisthoteuthis adorabilis’ discovery and naming are included after the story.

Verdict: This is an informative story about how organisms’ names often reflect their physical attributes or behavior. It would be a great addition to a lesson on sea life; but make sure students realize that some of the creatures in the story live in vastly different environments and would never encounter each other in the wild.

October 2018 review by Lillian Curanzy.

Book review: Do Not Open This Math Book, by Danica McKellar, illustrated by Maranda Maberry

McKellar, Danica. Do Not Open This Math Book. Illustrator Maranda Maberry. Random House, 2018. $21.99. ISBN 9781101933985. 152 pages. Ages 6-9. P7Q8.  

Do Not Open This Math Book is the ultimate math guide for parents and a fun-loving math companion for 1st and 2nd grade mathematicians. McKellar provides vocabulary explanations, addition and subtraction strategy practice, and hands-on games to provide readers a fail proof method of enjoying and mastering addition and subtraction skills. She uses food, cute characters, and clear and concise illustrations to help families understand the ‘new math’ learned at school. She takes the mystery out of math and makes it fun for all. Verdict: This should be a resource available for all 1st and 2nd grade classrooms and a back to school gift for parents.

September 2018 review by Marcy Doyle.

Book review: Who Says Women Can’t be Computer Programmers?: The Story of Ada Lovelace, by Tanya Lee Stone, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman

Stone, Tanya Lee. Who Says Women Can’t be Computer Programmers?: The Story of Ada Lovelace. Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman. Henry Holt and Company, 2018. $18.99. ISBN 9781627792998. Unpaged. Ages 6-9. P6Q7

Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, grew up in England with her mother, who wanted to protect her daughter from developing an overactive imagination like her badly behaved father. Her mother had Ada study math, French and music at home to keep her mind steady, and groomed her for a good marriage. As she grew older, she met the mathematician Charles Babbage, who invented the Difference Engine. Ada worked on the machine with Babbage, and realized that it could do more than basic mathematical calculations; she published a paper describing its potential not only to process numbers, but to create pictures and music. As a result, Ada is thought of as the first computer programmer, and the first to understand what such machines could do. The illustrations (gouache and india ink) are colorful and flowing, and I love that numbers, musical symbols, and other kinds of marks are incorporated in them.

VERDICT: This book will be a good addition to both public and school libraries, and will be useful for teachers talking about women in math and science.

September 2018 review by Carol Schramm.