Tag Archives: genre: picture books

Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life Review

hedy_lamarrs_double_lifeHedy Lamarr’s Double Life: Hollywood Legend and Brilliant Inventor by Laurie Wallmark; illustrated by Katy Wu

Sterling Children’s Books, 2019. 978-1454926917

Synopsis: To her adoring public, Hedy Lamarr was a glamorous movie star, widely considered the most beautiful woman in the world. But in private, she was something more: a brilliant inventor. And for many years only her closest friends knew her secret. – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: STEM! Women in science!

Why I finished it: Hedy Lamarr is one of many Hollywood stars that is celebrated for being talented and beautiful, but she also had a brilliant mind to match. Though she worked hard over the course of her lifetime on several inventions and developed one of the most important technologies of the modern age, it was hard to convince people that she was more than just a pretty face. I feel like this is a challenge common to women trying to break into what are traditionally masculine professions. Lamarr’s dedication to her work and her perseverance are an inspiration for all of us. The idea that we should to continue to think big and do good in the face of adversity and rejection is a message that comes across well for readers of all ages. Wu’s illustrations are fanciful and realistic to match the narrative. The contrasts of the Hollywood sepia tones with the bright colors of Lamarr’s workshop help to give the story a larger-than-life feel that seems to match the book’s subject. This is a fun read that is sure to inspire inventors and scientists of all ages.

Other related materials: Hedy Lamarr and a Secret Communication System by Trina Robbins, illustrated by Cynthia Martin; Hedy and her Amazing Invention by Jan Wahl, illustrated by Morgana Wallace; Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code by Laurie Wallmark, illustrated by Katy Wu; Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark, illustrated by April Chu; Lauren Ipsum: A Story about Computer Science and Other Improbable Things by Carlos Bueno; Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh, illustrated by Melissa Sweet; Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts-; Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science – and the World by Rachel Swaby; Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women who Changed the World by Cynthia Chin-Lee, illustrated by Megan Hasley and Sean Addy; Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky; Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around The World by Vashti Harrison

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Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code Review

grace_hopper_queen_of_computer_codeGrace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code by Laurie Wallmark; illustrated by Katy Wu

Sterling Children’s Books, 2017. 978-1454920007

Synopsis: Grace Hopper coined the term “computer bug” and taught computers to “speak English.” Throughout her life, Hopper succeeded in doing what no one had ever done before. Delighting in difficult ideas and in defying expectations, the insatiably curious Hopper truly was “Amazing Grace” . . . and a role model for science- and math-minded girls and boys. With a wealth of witty quotes, and richly detailed illustrations, this book brings Hopper’s incredible accomplishments to life. – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: Another book blog that I follow did an interview with Wallmark about this book that sparked my interest.

Why I finished it: Computing and coding are nothing new for the modern reader and the idea that there was a lot of trial and error to get us where we are today is somewhat mind blowing to me. In the twentieth century alone, computer users have gone from needing to switch out programs to perform a given task (for example, switching between a program that would perform addition and one that would perform multiplication) to having all those same programs being just a click away. What inspired me the most about Hopper’s story is that she continued to push forward in the face of adversity and fought the idea that we needed to keep doing things the same way. Hopper did a lot of thinking outside the box, and today we benefit from many of those off-the-wall ideas that perhaps no one else thought would work. I admire Hopper’s perseverance and passion, and how she never let things like her age, or her gender get in the way; it’s a wonderful example of never being too old to do what you want to do. Wu’s illustrations give the larger-than-life figure a softer side, giving the story a sense of whimsy without losing its seriousness. I love the free-flowing style that uses contrast to outline the drawings rather than relying on thick lines to distinguish between objects/people/etc. Though this is a picture book, the story and its message will resound with readers of all ages and surely capture the hearts and minds of a future generation of scientists.

Other related materials: Mathematician and Computer Scientist Grace Hopper by Andrea Pelleschi; Women Who Launched the Computer Age by Laurie Calkhoven, illustrated by Alyssa Petersen; Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark, illustrated by April Chu; Lauren Ipsum: A Story about Computer Science and Other Improbable Things by Carlos Bueno; Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh, illustrated by Melissa Sweet; Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts; Hello Ruby: Adventures in Coding by Linda Liukas; If: A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers by David J. Smith, illustrated by Steve Adams; Hedy Lamarr and a Secret Communication System by Trina Robbins, illustrated by Cynthia Martin; Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life by Laurie Wallmark, illustrated by Katy Wu; Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science – and the World by Rachel Swaby; Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women who Changed the World by Cynthia Chin-Lee, illustrated by Megan Hasley and Sean Addy

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Max the Flying Sausage Dog: The Seaside Tail Colouring Book Review

max_the_flying_sausage_dog_seaside_tailMax the Flying Sausage Dog: The Seaside Tail Colouring Book by John O’Driscoll and Richard Kelley; illustrated by Arthur Robins

Words in the Works LLC, 2017. 978-0997228458

Synopsis: When Tom’s cousin Katie comes to visit, the family takes a trip to the seaside to enjoy the waves. But what happens when a wave sweeps Katie out to sea? Will Tom use Max’s special power to help save his cousin?

Why I picked it up: It’s the perfect end of summer read! Plus, it’s also a coloring book!

Why I finished it: If you have read some of my other posts, you will know how much I have been enjoying Tom and Max’s adventures. And now, with this coloring book, the reader can take a role in the story by playing illustrator! I loved being able put down my own version of Robins’ wonderful illustrations and putting a different spin on this story that was all my own. The story itself is not as long as the other three Max books, but there’s lots of blank pages that invite the reader to fill it up with their own drawings and doodles. Plus, there are pages from the previous stories for the reader to color as well! This may be a quick read, but it will provide hours of entertainment.

Other related materials: Max the Flying Sausage Dog: A Tail from London by John O’Driscoll and Richard Kelley, illustrated by Arthur Robins; Max the Flying Sausage Dog: Tails from the Pound by John O’Driscoll and Richard Kelley, illustrated by Arthur Robins; Max the Flying Sausage Dog: A Scary Tail (Bullies, watch out!) by John O’Driscoll and Richard Kelley, illustrated by Arthur Robins; Gumwrappers and Goggles written and illustrated by Winifred Barnum-Newman; That Day in September and Other Rhymes for the Times by Liz Lime; Flat Stanley books by Jeff Brown, illustrated by Macky Pamintuan; Nate the Great books by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, illustrated by Marc Simont; Roscoe Riley Rules books by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Brian Biggs; George Brown, Class Clown books by Nancy Krulik, illustrated by Aaron Blecha; The Notebook of Doom books by Troy Cummings

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Max the Flying Sausage Dog: A Scary Tail Review

max_the_flying_sausage_dog_3Max the Flying Sausage Dog: A Scary Tail (Bullies, watch out!) by John O’Driscoll and Richard Kelley; illustrated by Arthur Robins

Words in the Works, 2016. 978-0997228427

Synopsis: Tom and Max are always picked on by the bullies next door and their bigger, meaner dogs. Could a neighbor in a run-down house have the answer Tom needs to get the bullies to be nicer?

Why I picked it up: This series is so cute and fun!

Why I finished it: This might not be a Halloween story, per se, but it has ghouls, ghosts, and witches that will thrill each reader. When Tom’s parents convince him to go and help out an older lady everyone thinks is a witch, he and Max are nervous about what will happen to them. But there’s no need to worry because Miss Amersham isn’t actually a witch – she’s just lonely since her dog died, and Tom knows what it’s like to lose a friend. Miss Amersham tells Tom he needs to confront the bullies (whatever that means) and then they will stop picking on him. While the solution isn’t immediately apparent to Tom or the reader, the solution is both creative and clever. What is so enchanting to me about this series is that it hits on a lot of different themes, like responsibility and bullying, that are things most of us have to deal with all the time either directly or indirectly. We might be afraid to go to that scary house down the street and interact with a weird neighbor, but it’s still someone’s home and that neighbor is still a person that needs to be treated with respect. We shouldn’t make fun of something or someone just because we perceive it as different or weird. We need to celebrate our individuality and be willing to do things that might seem a little bit scary at first. But these experiences are the ones in which we grow the most. Sweet, charming, and full of love, this book can be enjoyed by all ages and all reading levels either read to yourself or out loud. I’m always excited to read more about Max and Tom’s adventures!

Other related materials: Max the Flying Sausage Dog: A Tail from London by John O’Driscoll and Richard Kelley, illustrated by Arthur Robins; Max the Flying Sausage Dog: Tails from the Pound by John O’Driscoll and Richard Kelley, illustrated by Arthur Robins Gumwrappers and Goggles written and illustrated by Winifred Barnum-Newman; That Day in September and Other Rhymes for the Times by Liz Lime; Flat Stanley books by Jeff Brown, illustrated by Macky Pamintuan; Nate the Great books by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, illustrated by Marc Simont; Roscoe Riley Rules books by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Brian Biggs; George Brown, Class Clown books by Nancy Krulik, illustrated by Aaron Blecha; The Notebook of Doom books by Troy Cummings

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Sherlock Sam and the Ghostly Moans at Fort Canning Review

sherlock_sam_2Sherlock Sam and the Ghostly Moans in Fort Canning by A.J. Low, illustrations by drewscape

Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2016. 978-1449477882

Synopsis: On a class trip to Fort Canning, a base used by British troops during World War II, Sherlock Sam and his friends discover a hidden escape port that appears to be haunted. Desperate to prove that there is no such thing as a ghost, Sherlock, his robot Watson, his sister Wendy, Sherlock’s dad, and his friends Jimmy and Nazhar set out to discover the real source of the moaning within the historical monument.

Why I picked it up: I was eager to read more about Singapore’s Greatest Kid Detective!

Why I finished it: In Sherlock’s second case, he’s forced to confront the idea that something illogical could be the most logical solution. But Sherlock isn’t willing to accept that all signs point to the supernatural. Sure, there are plenty of ghosts in Peranakan and Asian culture, but those are just stories; stories like that couldn’t possibly be real. Then again, belief in the supernatural is different from person to person…. Readers get to know a little bit more about Sherlock’s dad, as he joins the gang to help his children and their classmates solve the mystery behind the ghostly moans coming from the hidden escape port. It’s easy to see where Sherlock gets some of his hobbies and quirks, evidenced in the plot and by the accompanying illustrations. I liked the additional character development because now the parents don’t feel like such flat characters. They do have a role, and it’s not just to cook food, tell them to do the dishes, and lecture them about getting to school on time. Husband-wife writing team Felicia Low-Jimenez and Adan Jimenez have started to develop a little bit more of their style with this book. The plot remains somewhat formulaic (as mysteries tend to be), but they throw in enough twists to keep the reader guessing and keep things from becoming predictable. They have even thrown in some universal cultural references to ground non-Asian readers in the story. drewscape’s drawings continue to enchant, focusing more on the little details in the background for this installment that not only brings the characters to life, but gives us a better idea of their personalities as well. It’s fun, humorous, and just the right amount of scary. And be sure to check out Sherlock Sam’s Blog and Facebook page for even more of the boy detective.

Other related materials: Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong by A.J. Low, illustrations by drewscape; Sherlock Sam and the Sinister Letters in Bras Basah by A.J. Low, illustrations by drewscape; Sherlock Sam and the Alien Encounter on Pulau Ubin by A.J. Low, illustrations by drewscape; Sherlock Sam and the Vanishing Robot in Penang by A.J. Low, illustrations by drewscape; Sherlock Sam and the Cloaked Classmate in Macritchie by A.J. Low, illustrations by drewscape; Sherlock Sam and the Stolen Script in Balestier by A.J. Low, illustrations by drewscape; Sherlock Sam and the Fiendish Mastermind in Jurong by A.J. Low, illustrations by drewscape; Sherlock Sam and the Obento Bonanza in Tokyo by A.J. Low, illustrations by drewscape; Sherlock Sam and the Comic Book Caper in New York by A.J. Low, illustrations by drewscape; Waylon! One Awesome Thing by Sarah Pennypacker, pictures by Marla Frazee; Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective books by Donald J. Sobol; Nate the Great books by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, illustrated by Marc Simont; The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner; The Chicken Squad books by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Kevin Cornell

 

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Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong Review

sherlock_sam_1Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong by A.J. Low, illustrations by drewscape

Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2016. 978-1449477899

Synopsis: Meet 10-year-old Samuel Tan Cher Lock, or, Sherlock Sam. He’s a boy detective with astute powers of observation, a love of comics, and an insatiable appetite. So what happens when the cookbook needed to make one of his favorite dishes goes missing? Along with his sister Wendy, classmate Jimmy, and his robot Watson, he’s on the case to recover the family heirloom!

Why I picked it up: I like kid detectives and fast-paced mysteries.

Why I finished it: Previously published overseas, Singapore’s Greatest Kid Detective makes his U.S. debut in style. The book draws on famous Singapore locations for its setting and the diversity and the culture really come to life. So, not only does Sherlock Sam have mystery and intrigue, there’s a history/social sciences lesson. Plus, all the talking about food was making me hungry – I love trying new foods and I’m eager to go to my local library to see if I can check out some books on how to experience some of the tasty treats I read about. Sherlock is a quirky character that is (intentionally) just as intelligent and resourceful as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective. The genius factor is played up just enough that readers will be able to follow most of Sherlock’s logic and deductions, and we are in awe of the cleverness exhibited by the young detective. The husband-wife writing team has crafted a story that is sure to keep us on our toes until the final pages. I really enjoyed the illustrations because they brought the story to life. They reminded me a lot of the Big Nate comics the way the lines are drawn and the way drewscape uses visuals to really bring home the humor. It’s a quick read sure to entice mystery lovers and reluctant readers alike. And be sure to check out Sherlock Sam’s Blog and Facebook page for even more of the boy detective.

Other related materials: Sherlock Sam and the Ghostly Moans in Fort Canning by A.J. Low, illustrations by drewscape; Sherlock Sam and the Sinister Letters in Bras Basah by A.J. Low, illustrations by drewscape; Sherlock Sam and the Alien Encounter on Pulau Ubin by A.J. Low, illustrations by drewscape; Sherlock Sam and the Vanishing Robot in Penang by A.J. Low, illustrations by drewscape; Sherlock Sam and the Cloaked Classmate in Macritchie by A.J. Low, illustrations by drewscape; Sherlock Sam and the Stolen Script in Balestier by A.J. Low, illustrations by drewscape; Sherlock Sam and the Fiendish Mastermind in Jurong by A.J. Low, illustrations by drewscape; Sherlock Sam and the Obento Bonanza in Tokyo by A.J. Low, illustrations by drewscape; Sherlock Sam and the Comic Book Caper in New York by A.J. Low, illustrations by drewscape; Waylon! One Awesome Thing by Sarah Pennypacker, pictures by Marla Frazee; Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective books by Donald J. Sobol; Nate the Great books by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, illustrated by Marc Simont; The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner; The Chicken Squad books by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Kevin Cornell

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Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine Review

ada_byron_lovelace_and_the_thinking_machineAda Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark, illustrated by April Chu

Creston Books, 2015. 978-1939547200

Synopsis: Ada Lovelace, the daughter of the famous romantic poet, Lord Byron, develops her creativity through science and math. When she meets Charles Babbage, the inventor of the first mechanical computer, Ada understands the machine better than anyone else and writes the world’s first computer program in order to demonstrate its capabilities. – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: In addition to Darlene Beck-Jacobson having featured the book on her blog, I’m an avid supporter of books that promote math and science and women in technology.

Why I finished it: The literary world needs more books like this one that promote math and science to a female audience. Both fields have been heavily dominated by men – and for the most part, still are – and it is important to promote the contributions of female mathematicians and scientists because their stories are inspiration for the new generations. Lovelace grew up and lived in an era where women did not often stray beyond the role of wife and mother, and like those before and those who would follow her, she found a way to make a name for herself and to challenge the notions of what it meant to be a woman. She is celebrated as the first programmer, a title I feel she deserves: the algorithms she wrote in the 19th century pre-date the computer, but when her work was applied to the modern ‘thinking machine’, it was nearly perfect. Wallmark’s story may be marketed as a children’s book, but the story she tells can be appreciated by readers of all ages. It’s about perseverance and the power of ideas, a message that transcends age and gender. Chu’s illustrations lovingly capture the Victorian era and the world of numbers that entertained Lovelace. The attention to detail lets the reader linger a moment on the pictures that accompany the text, to more fully appreciate the forward thinking minds that unknowingly created computer programming. It’s an inspiring read that can be read and shared over and over again.

Other related materials: Ada Lovelace: The Computer Wizard of Victorian England by Lucy Lethbridge; Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer by Diane Stanley, illustrated by Jessie Hartland; Lauren Ipsum: A Story about Computer Science and Other Improbable Things by Carlos Bueno; Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh, illustrated by Melissa Sweet; Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts; Hello Ruby: Adventures in Coding by Linda Liukas; If: A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers by David J. Smith, illustrated by Steve Adams; Hedy Lamarr and a Secret Communication System by Trina Robbins, illustrated by Cynthia Martin; Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science – and the World by Rachel Swaby; Girls Who Rocked the World: Heroines from Joan of Arc to Mother Teresa by Michelle Roehm McCann and Amelia Welden, illustrated by David Hahn; Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women who Changed the World by Cynthia Chin-Lee, illustrated by Megan Hasley and Sean Addy; Cool Engineering Activities for Girls by Heather E. Schwartz; Cool Chemistry Activities for Girls by Jodi Wheeler-Toppen, PhD; Cool Physics Activities for Girls by Suzanne Slade

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