Showing posts with label WORTHY!. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WORTHY!. Show all posts

Saturday, May 4, 2019

The Mouse With the Question Mark Tail by Richard Peck


Rating: WORTHY!

Written in 2013 by an author who died almost exactly a year ago, this was a fun little audiobook which frankly dragged a bit for me towards the end, but given how short the book is and how much fun the first two-thirds of it was, I'm not about to mark it down for that, especially since it wasn't written for my age group!

This mouse not only has a question mark tail, he lacks a real name and is known as Mouse Minor for the most part - and he is minor - small for his age. It seemed so obvious that I don't see it as a spoiler to reveal that this mouse is royalty. He's sent to school but ends up getting in trouble over a caterpillars-in-lunch-boxes incident to which Mouse Minor neither confesses nor denies. He runs away instead and ends up on an adventure in which he's kidnapped by bats and eventually gets an audience with Queen Victoria herself who seems, I have to say, curiously unafraid of mice.

Richard Peck is an American and while he does for the most part get his 'Britishisms' right, there are times when he strays, but most Americans won't notice those, especially not children. Overall though, this was a fun romp and I commend it as a worthy listen, but I should warn you that this is an old style children's novel (Peck was in his late seventies when he wrote it) and so it contains some violent concepts which tend not to appear in children's books written by younger authors. These include a somewhat bloodthirsty discussion of the beheadings in the French revolution, which goes on a little bit too long, and also instances of Mouse Minor contemplating having his brains beaten to jelly by the school bullies - that sort of thing, so be mindful of that.


Yay! You're Gay! Now What? by Riyadh Khalaf


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

Errata:
“...you’re going more than you’re sexuality“ that second one should be ‘your’.
“If you ignore the bully, and removing yourself from the situation...” 'Removing' should be 'Remove'.
“If you’ve already come out to friends at school, as if they have any LGBT+ pals” Ask if they have!
This isn't so much an error as a point of order, and it wasn't the author who said this, but Simon Anthony-Roden in his advice to his younger self, but there’s no evidence that it was Oscar Wilde who said “Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.“ People are misquoted or misattributed all the time, so no big deal.

This book is a complete guide to how to handle your discovery that you're gay - or at some other place on what's commonly referred to as 'the spectrum' but which I prefer to think of as a slide since a spectrum implies something that's fixed, and I think very few people are solidly fixed in whatever position they're in. Your orientation and preferences can change over your life and no, thats not the same as saying 'gayness can be cured' because there's nothing to cure.

There were times when it felt a little bit over the top for me, but you can't blame a guy for reveling in who he is, so that's no big deal. There were also times when I felt he went a little in the wrong direction - like seemingly implying right up front that gay guys don't play soccer (Justin Fashanu, Robbie Rogers, and and the entire amateur team of Paris Foot Gay would disagree, as would Eudy Simelane, had she not been raped and murdered in 2008), but usually when he seemed to be veering, it was for a reason.

The book covers pretty much anything a young person may want to know if they have perhaps been wrestling with identity and how to face what's becoming obvious to them, and deal with accepting it, and whether to come out and who to come out to. It doesn't matter what your question is, you will find valuable advice in this book, and not just from the author, but also from an assortment of others who have walked this same path.

it begins with asking if you think you might be gay, and moves on to coming out, finding friends and finding love, then appropriately gets to "all about bodies" and "Let's talk about sex," both of which contain excellent guidance and advice. Be warned, there are no punches pulled here. For a gay guy, the author tells it straight! Each of these sections is filled with personal anecdote, good advice and comments on their own sexuality and advice they would have given to their younger selves by some celebrities, the only two I'd heard of, I have to confess, were Stephen Fry, of whom I'm a fan, and Jin Yong, who I heard of only recently. Others are Clark Moore, Simon Anthony-Roden, Rory O'Neill, James Kavanagh, Matthew Todd, Shane Jenek, and Ranj Singh. That said, I'm not a big TV watcher. There is only a few shows that I tend to watch, and I've never been a fan of RuPaul Andre Charles, so I've never seen his Drag Race, but I have heard of Cortney Act, Jenek's alter-ego, a stage name I've long thought was choice!

The bottom of page 171 (page 86 on the iPad I was using) ended with “You don’t need an” but page 172 (87 on the tablet) was the start of a new chapter! I guess we’ll never know how that sentence ends!

This is yet another case of a print book farmed-out to reviewers as an ebook for convenience, but I often wonder if publishers ever consider what a poor impression one of these 'afterthought ebooks' leaves. As it happens, and apart from a very negative experience on my iPhone before I switched to a tablet, this book wasn’t so bad. There was an occasionally 'sticky page' (and no, not that kind of sticky - but sticky in the sense it wouldn't swipe easily tot he next or previous page, and took two or three times to move it. On the iPhone there were also times when pages came up on the wrong oder, so I wouldn't recommend reading it on a device that small.

This book wasn't so bad, but I’m honestly at the point now where I will negatively review a poorly conceived ebook regardless of its literary merit. Here’s why: the modern concept of an ebook was initiated almost half a century ago by Michael Hart who founded Project Gutenberg and even ePub books have been around for some two decades. There really is no excuse for substandard ebooks these days, and if authors/publishers are going to issue one to reviewers, they need to look at the thing in the e-version on one or two different devices to make sure it's worthy of issuing!

That said I commend this ebook for being a worthy read and a useful contribution to helping those in need of advice and a leg up here and there.


Friday, May 3, 2019

Who Laid the Egg? By Audrey Sauble


Rating: WORTHY!

This was a colorful little book for young children about eggs and the creatures that lay them. It poses a question at each egg illustration, and offers some possible solutions as to who laid it. Sometimes there are many suggestions, sometimes a few, sometimes only one! Children can have fun guessing who did what, and comparing the kinds of eggs to see if that can be used as a reliable clue. The animals include birds, turtles, dinosaurs, and even a mammal! This is a fun book for young children and I commend it.


The Secret Sisters of the Salty Sea by Lynn Rae Perkins


Rating: WORTHY!

Read by Brittany Presley, this audiobook was entertaining. I came to it after having really enjoyed the author's Nuts to You story. This isn't really aimed at males, and certainly not at men of my age, but it's still enjoyable in its sweet innocence, and it's definitely a worthy contender for an age-appropriate audience, female or male. It read (or listened!) more like a vacation diary than an actual story which didn't sound as odd as it might have. There was no 'Dear Dairy' affectation in it, but it still had that sort of a vibe, like maybe the author was recounting events from her own childhood rather than making up the story from scratch.

It was about two sisters, Alix and "Jools" Treffrey, and their week's vacation at the beach with their parents. Told form Alix's PoV, it talks about the long trip there, and the even longer trip home caused by three flat tires in a row, but most of the story is filled by Alix and Jools games, adventures, fanciful scenarios they invent, and their discoveries at the beach. It's sweet, innocent, playful and easy listening, and I commend it as a worthy title.


I am Amelia Earhart by Brad Metzler


Rating: WORTHY!

This was a very short book for young children which skipped a huge part of Earhart's life and harped a bit overmuch on her purportedly dedicated lifelong devotion to flight, which actually didn't happen in real life. She took something of a scattershot approach to her career, aiming vaguely toward medical service until she saw this guy fly an airplane at a show. He must have spotted her and her friend standing on the ground watching, and aimed the plane straight down at them before swooping by quite closely. It was at that point, when she was in her early twenties that she really decided she wanted to fly, not when she was a child, but it doesn't hurt to stir up kids' ambitions here and there, or encourage them to aim higher than they might otherwise do, so I wasn't too focused on that.

Other than that, the book was largely factual, amusingly and colorfully illustrated, and an enjoyable read, so I commend it as a worthy read for young children.


Zachary and the Great Potato Catastrophe by Junia Wonders, Giulia Lombardo


Rating: WORTHY!

Junia Wonders sounds like a made-up name for a children's book writer, but apparently it isn't! So we have Junia and Giulia, who is the accomplished artist. This was a cute children's picture book based, purportedly, on a true story! This rat named Zachary in the story, lived under the wooden floor of a bakery, which is never a good thing. Anyone who's read any of my The Little Rattuses™ series can't fail to see that I love rats, but I'd wouldn't want to buy anything from a bakery that has rats living on the premises, pet or otherwise!

Anyway, Zachary was in the habit of coming out and taking just one cupcake or whatever, which he would sneak back to his lair and consume. He lived a solitary life and didn't want anyone else around. He wasn't into sharing, not even with his hosts, so when he found a large sack of potatoes, which were different from anything he'd tasted before, he brought one back with him, and discovered that they were so addictive, even without being chipped, fried, and salted! He started bringing all the potatoes home, until he had a bed of them under the floorboards.

Potatoes keep remarkably well, but they don't keep forever. Zachary discovered this when his supply began turning green and stinky. The smell even reached the baker who seems to have been extraordinarily lax with his stock-taking in that he never missed a whole sack of potatoes until a rotting smell alerted him. He uncovered the rat hole in the wall then, and a startled and terrified Zachary, who despite an attempted assault with a saucepan, managed to escape into the sewer where he gave up his solitary life and lived happily among friends - although this part of the story hasn't been officially confirmed yet.

I enjoyed this story and consider it a worthy read for kids of any age.


The Grown-Up's Guide to Making Art with Kids by Lee Foster-Wilson


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

Subtitled "25+ fun and easy projects to inspire you and the little ones in your life" this book was just what it claimed to be, although I have to say this is an artist working here so she might well make many of the rest of us look less than stellar; that said, she does generously offer tips hints and shortcuts to improving our work.

The book has a clickable "Tables of Contents" but there's actually only one table. I never got 'table of Contents' although many books use it. It's really a list of contents, isn't it?! That's why I never bother with such a thing, but this one does offer an easy jump to any chosen chapter. You don't get that in a print book! LOL! There's no jump back to the content page though, in case you jump to the wrong chapter, but the slide bar at the bottom will get you into easy swiping distance.

The book charts a steady course between a drawing tutorial and then a connected project, and so on, and you don't need a professional set-up for this; just some inexpensive paints you can buy at any big store, and/or some colored markers or pencils, or even crayons, along with some paper or card stock you can get from cardboard food packaging if you want. The important thing isn't the high quality materials, but the creativity, fun, confidence-building and sense of accomplishment children will feel when you work though these projects with them. I'm behind that 100%.

The book opens with some discussion of colors and how to work with them and mix them. There's a glossary at the back which explains some terms, although I'd take issue with the comment about orientation - which merely means which way your painting surface lies - if it's wider than it is tall, then it's landscape - imagine a sweeping vista. If it's taller than it is wide, then it's portrait. You'll know this if you take pictures with your phone, and that's my point - the last sentence claims orientation has nothing to do with the subject of the painting, but I disagree with that. Perhaps children won't much care, but to me letting them see that the orientation of the finished image can contribute a lot to how that image is perceived when it's done isn't a wasted endeavor. Anyone who's tipped their phone to the side or held it straight-up to take that picture understands this. It's the same with a painting, but that's a quibble.

The book covers animals, people, flora (if you haven't met flora you have no business being an artist!), buildings, and robots! The projects are a delight, and includes pop-up image like you might find in some children's book, and a shadow puppet theater - and many more. Don't feel dissuaded when you see how easily this artist throws together a sweet image. With practice and following her instructions, you'll get there, and even if you don't your kids will be inspired to strive for the little bit better look to their own work. I commend this as a worthy read.

On a slight downer, just as an advisory, I think this was yet another book designed as a print version, but of which I only get to see the ebook version, and even on a medium-sized iPad, some of the image labels were dissociated from the image they discussed. I think this is because the label came before the image instead of after it and wasn't tied to it, so I'd read, for example, "A cow has a similar structure, with slightly different shapes" but this would appear underneath the sketch outline of the horse. I had to swipe to the next page to see a sketch of the cow. This potentially may offer some confusion when following the step-by-step instructions for some of the projects, but with diligence, you'll master them.


Thursday, May 2, 2019

The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole by Michelle Cuevas


Rating: WORTHY!

And for my 3,000th review on this website in less than six years, I can't think of anything (my own novels and children's series excluded!) better than to give this one the honor!

Read delightfully by Laura Ortiz, this audiobook was a blast. It was sly and humorous, intelligent, but endearingly simple, and fully entertaining. It reminded me a bit of the old Calvin and Hobbes cartoons where the characters have rather more maturity than they would seem to merit at first glance.

Set in the mid-seventies, when Stella Rodriguez was eleven and still very much feeling the loss of her father, she decided during a school holiday to visit NASA and offer a tape recording of her father's laughter that she has. She hopes it will be added to the recording of Earth sounds and images that was included on a gold analog disk that is now flying outbound from the solar system on Voyager 1, which is headed for a rendezvous with the Oort 'cloud' in about 300 years, and will then will spend the next thirty-thousand years transiting that body, which is believed to be a repository for embryonic comets.

The guard at NASA wouldn't let her in, but due to an emergency she manages to sneak inside; then exits quickly followed by what turns out to be a black hole which has become attached to her. She names it Larry. Of course. Why not?

Hiding out in her bedroom, Larry promptly begins consuming assorted objects, including the school's pet hamster, Stinky Stew, which Stella was supposed to be taking care of over the holiday. She doesn't miss Stew very much, but objects when Larry devours a picture of her father, and really loses it when it swallows her new pet puppy, so she launches herself into the hole and begins sailing the Black Hole Sea in an old iron bathtub in search of the dog star...er, puppy star....

While I feel it lost a little momentum when she entered the black hole, the story in general was hilarious, fast-moving for the most part, and full of humorous asides and amusing events. I recommend this completely as a worthy read for any age, but particularly for young readers and listeners.


The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec by Jacques Tardi


Rating: WORTHY!

I came to this via the Luc Besson movie. This first volume includes two stories: "Pterror over Paris," from which the movie was made, and "The Eiffel Tower Demon." The former is about a pterodactyl which magically pops out of a fossil egg in a museum in Paris, and begins to terrorize the city. The second involves the scary appearance of the demon Pazuzu, whom you might recall from The Exorcist. This demon is thought to have been conjured-up from the nether regions by a cult in the city of Paris which reaches into some of the highest levels of government, but all is not what it seems! In fact, I wouldn't mind meeting a demon like that! Oh wait, I did! And I married her! Adèle Blanc-Sec is equal to both challenges though.

The drawing is good and the script, set in and around 1911, is entertaining. While I enjoyed this particular volume, this is not a series I feel a huge compulsion to pursue. It was entertaining enough, but not completely engrossing and life is too short! Adèle Blanc-Sec is very much a female Indiana Jones, especially as rendered in the movie, so that was amusing and entertaining, and I do consider this graphic novel a worthy read.


Nifty Thrifty Music Crafts for Kids by Felicia Lowenstein Niven


Rating: WORTHY!

This was a great crafts book for kids because it allows them to make musical instruments (near enough!) out of household scraps. Stuff that would normally go into recycling can hereby be recycled into an instrument, and then when that's worn out, it can be recycled back to recycling!

The book gives illustrated instructions on how to make a xylophone, rhythm blocks, panpipes, finger cymbals (always fun!), a colonial drum (whatever that is! I suppose it's a drum that wants to take over and make you pay a tax on your tea imports?), American Indian clapper, tambourine, rain stick, maracas, and a rubber band ukulele! You could outfit a whole band with this book and each project gives you a double return because it offers a confidence-building activity for a child, and then a fun toy for that same child. Can't argue with that, unless you have rocks in your head instead of rock 'n' roll! Unless you have no soul! Unless you're tired of taking the rap! Unless you have a bad hip and can't hop! I commend this as an inventive and a fun book for children's activities.


51 Things to Make With Egg Cartons by Fiona Hayes


Rating: WORTHY!

When I was a young kid, my younger brother and I used to use the cut-off bottoms of egg cartons as hoards of Daleks (the menacing robotic beings from the BBC's Doctor Who TV show which I have to say has rather taken a step backwards under Chris Chibnall's leadership - not because the Doctor is now a woman by any means - I like the new Doctor - but because we get fewer episodes and only every other year, it seems. Shameful!).

This author is much more inventive than we were, and this book was a great idea. With the ideas colorfully illustrated and explained in detail - but simply! - kids can end up creating a large variety of neat little toys from animals (chicken, bee, hedgehog, tortoise, octopus, bunny, and others) to vehicles (dump truck, fire engine, pirate ship and more), to flowers, face masks, treasure chests, rockets, and on and on. This will keep a kid occupied and render you broke buying enough eggs to generate all those cartons! LOL!

But approached as a bi-weekly project, once you've used all those eggs, it can be a cheap and fun way to spend your time, especially if it's raining or cold out. They may need some supervision depending on their competency and trustworthiness with glue, paints and scissors, but it's worth it to see their joy at making something themselves - something fun and practical - boosting their self-confidence and getting double the return - time well-occupied making a toy and then more time well-occupied playing with the toy! I commend this as a worthy tool to a child's happiness.


Fast Forward by Adam Skinner


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This was a fun book, especially for me who isn't really into motor sports. I have been to one or two races myself and I'm always interested in potential topics for novels, so this felt like a good book to review and I guessed right!

The book is quite short, but full-color illustrations of tracks, cars, and drivers, and a wealth of facts on cars, circuits, and interesting events make it seem a lot bigger than it is. It covers circuits and featured cars as follows:

  • Nürburgring - Porsche 911 GT2 RS
  • Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps - McClaren MP4/4 Honda
  • Suzuka - Honda NSX
  • Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans - Ford GT40 Mk 2
  • Albert Park Lake - Maserati 250F
  • Circuit de Monaco - BRM P57
  • Monza - Ferrari F1-2000
  • Goodwood - Jaguar E-Type 4.2
  • Daytona - 1970 Plymouth Superbird
  • Bahrain International - Red Bull RB8
  • Dakar Rally - Mitsubishi Pajero 2005
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Lotus 38
  • Pikes Peak - Drive eO PP03
  • Silverstone - Aston Martin DB5
  • Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg - Williams FW23
  • Shanghai International Circuit - Holden Commodore VZ
  • Laguna Seca - Dodge Viper ACR
  • Mount Panorama - Holden Torana A9X

There's a short glossary and a longer index at the end, and rest assured it's not just about cars and tracks, the book also has assorted drivers of note and yesteryear highlighted on each page (such as Juan Manuel Fangio, Jutta Kleinschmidt, Michael Schumacher, Jackie Stewart, Alex Zanardi, and a score of others) including career masterpieces, amazing wins, tragic deaths, come-from-behind wins, fistfights, track and racing records, and amazing escapes from accidents.

I found this book fascinating and educational, and I commend it as a worthy read.


Wednesday, May 1, 2019

David Bowie by Isabel Sanchez Vegara, Ana Albero


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

Erratum:
“This made his eyes look like were different colors” should read look like they were different colors!

I've been following this series quite closely and enjoyed very nearly all of the books I've read in it so far. This is another one to add to the list of successes. David Bowie's career in playing music either as an amateur band member at fifteen or as a legend right before he died in 2016 at the age of 69, spanned over half a century. He constantly reinvented himself and in this spate of musical biopics (including the phenomenal Bohemian Rhapsody and then Rocketman, and the documentary on the Beatles by director Peter Jackson) which seem to be flourishing lately, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see one crop-up about him.

He's been in and out of musical success since he debuted The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars in the early seventies, and resurged with Ashes to Ashes and Let's Dance in the early eighties, and in between he had a minor film career. He was also a controversial figure regarding his androgyny, but it's not completely clear (at least to my knowledge) whether this was more of an image he was portraying or more of the person he actually was, so I didn't feel that omitting it was a bad thing in this particular case. Overall I enjoyed this and thought it a worthy and educational read.


Mahatma Gandhi by Isabel Sanchez Vegara, Albert Arrayas


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

Another in a children's 'Little People, Big Dreams' series which I've been following, this one tells a great story. Anyone who's watched the Richard Attenborough movie starring Ben Kingsley, and written by John Briley will realize how important it is for young children to be introduced to people like Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi as opposed to an excess of superhero movies where people typically beat the pulp out of one another. Not that those aren't fun in their place, but let's not ever take them seriously as solutions to problems!

Naturally a life like Bapu's cannot be adequately captured in a book of this nature, but I felt that author Vegara does a fine job in distilling the important stuff. This book, delightfully illustrated by Albert Arrayas, follows Ghandi's life from childhood through university in London, to South Africa and back to India, and it explains his philosophy and where it came from. For young children, that's an important start. I commend it.


1, 2, 3, Who's Cleaning the Sea? by Janina Rossiter


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

I don't personally know Janina Rossiter, but we've exchanged an email now and then, and I've favorably reviewed several of her books on their merit, most specifically the 'Tovi the Penguin' books. She's branched out into a different concept here: teaching counting and at the same time offering some environmental awareness to young children. I believe this is something of a companion to her 'ABC' book, although I haven't read that one.

In an era where we find trash islands floating in the ocean and beached whales with pounds of plastic in their gut, and as National Geographic reported last October, your table salt most likely includes tiny plastic particles no matter where in the world you buy it, it hits any rational, caring person hard in the head as to how badly we're making a mess of our environment.

The book aims to counteract some of that by educating youngsters about this nightmare of a problem. It starts with the number one and finds a marine animal to represent each number in one way or another. Obviously the 8 is an octopus, but what number is a Jellyfish collecting plastic bags? Children will have fun finding out which other animals have different numbers of legs or fins, but more importantly, they will learn how bad our ocean is and how desperately it needs help.

Yes the ocean is huge, but so is the problem. We've been tossing modern trash into it for decades, and like climate change, it's way past time to stop making things worse. Maybe a kid who reads this will grow up to take charge of the problem and fix what we have so poorly managed. I commend this book as a worthy read.


How to Be a Butterfly by Laura Knowles, Catell Ronca


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This was a gorgeously illustrated little book for young children about the Lepidoptera, better known to most as butterflies. Note that Lepidoptera also includes moths, and they get a mention here, but this is primarily all about butterflies. How to be one is a cute round-about way of describing what a butterfly looks like without turning it into a boring list of characteristics. It runs along the lines of you having to have colorful wings with smooth edges, but you can also have pale wings or ones with lobes and scallops. You have to have slim antennae with buds on the end, and so on. And of course you have to drink nectar and lay eggs in safe places on leaves your caterpillars can eat, and then they have to lock themselves up and pupate before they can be beautiful butterflies too.

I was seriously impressed by how much work Catell Ronca did in illustrating scores of butterflies of all kinds. It was epic! There are multiple and endlessly varied butterflies everywhere. It was almost like being in one of those lepidopterarium places where butterflies roam free indoors and breed and live out their unjustly short lives, and you can wander around in the middle of them and enjoy the spectacle! I think this book was excellent: educational, colorful, well-written, interesting and fun. I commend it.


Boy oh Boy by Cliff Leek, Bene Rohlmann


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This colorful book, illustrated nicely by Rohlmann and written concisely, but informatively by Leek, takes a brief look at the careers of thirty men who have not exactly gone in for a career in a regular job in an office or a factory - although some may have begun their journey that way.

Some of them you will know by name - or certainly ought to know, and others will be more obscure if your experience is anything like mine. Personally I knew just over half of them. There were some others I'd maybe heard of, maybe not, but the important thing is that I'm a lot wiser now!

The mini-bio in each case gives important details about each person and explains why they're worthy of being included in such an august list. Listed alphabetically by last name, the 'boys' are these:

  • Carlos Acosta
  • Muhammad Ali
  • César Chávez
  • Luther Christman
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • John Dewey
  • Frederick Douglass
  • WEB Du Bois
  • Edward Enninful
  • Jaime Escalante
  • Grandmaster Flash
  • Mahatma Gandhi
  • David Hockney
  • Ezra Jack Keats
  • Lebron James
  • Bruce Lee
  • Richard Loving
  • Nelson Mandela
  • Patricio Manuel
  • Thurgood Marshall
  • Freddie Mercury
  • Hayao Miyazaki
  • John Muir
  • Alfred Nobel
  • Prince
  • Bayard Rustin
  • Carl Sagan
  • George Washington Carver
  • Oscar Wilde
  • Kit Yan

Note that this isn't the order they're in in the book. I'm not sure what order they're in in the book since it begins with David Hockney, who has neither a first nor a last name that comes first in this list, nor was he born first. The list includes artists such as Hockney (painting), Prince (music), Miyazaki (film), and Acosta (ballet), sports such as Ali (boxing) and James (basketball), as well as union organizers such as Chávez and civil rights campaigners such as Ghandi, Loving, Mandela, and Rustin, so there's a variety, including two ftm transgender entries.

I have to note that most (60%) of the people in the list are Americans, with another 13% British, leaving the rest dotted around in an assortment of other countries in Europe, Latin America and Asia. I'd like to have seen better international coverage, but given who is in this list, it isn't too bad for a start, so I commend it as a worthy read, offering alternatives to boys who might be drawn to certain interests which some clueless people might foolishly seek to dissuade them from.


Supersize Cross Sections: Inside Engines by Pascale Hedelin, Lou Rihn


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

Erratum:
There is a spelling error on the Hindenburg page. Item 04, about the keel, misspells the word 'structure'

Supersize cross-sections are not exactly supersize on an iPad, so my being only the kind of reviewer who doesn't merit a print book for review, I can only guess at how the final copy will look, but viewed in relatively small scale on a medium sized iPad, it looked swell, and would have fascinated me as a child, because I always enjoyed reading the 'how things worked' books, and especially ones with cutaways.

Starting with a pirate ship to get the saliva flowing, this book also covers the Orient Express (now that would have been useful when I wrote my parody!), The Titanic, the Hindenburg, a Sherman tank, the Saturn V rocket (always my favorite - modern rockets have nowhere near the same class that one did), the International Space Station, a submarine, a fire engine, and a host of other items, including a circus and totaling fifteen in all.

The drawings are in color, are crisp and clear, and each important part is numbered, with a key by the side of the drawing explaining what was going on in that section. It's perfect, and I commend it whole-heartedly!


The Dictionary of Difficult Words by Jane Solomon, Louise Lockhart


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

I'm quite erudite and familiar with a lot of singular or putatively obscure words, but there were still some in here that I found new or otherwise interesting. I imagine this will be a useful book for any logophile - or if they were not one when they started reading this, they will undoubtedly be so by the time they're finished! The book devotes around two pages to each letter of the alphabet providing a total of some 400 words in all. It's illustrated amusingly by Lockhart and compiled by Solomon. Lockhart and Solomon sounds like a law firm doesn't it? Or an office of private investigators!

But I digress! This is definitely a book for anyone who loves words or who is interested in writing, and if you don't love words, you really have no business being a writer!


Planet Fashion by Natasha Slee, Cynthia Kittler


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

Illustrated in style(!) by Cynthia Kittler, this book is an unusual one for children, but I think it will be well-received. Anyone who knows me well or who has read some of my reviews, will know I have no time for the fashion industry, but this book isn't about those pretentious and self-indulgent poseurs. It's a history book about how fashions have changed over the last century and who was wearing what and when. Naturally it's quite USA and Euro-centric, but it also covers other places, such as Australasia and Central America, which was commendable.

It's designed as a print book which means the tablet computer cannot really present it properly. It has to be enlarged to read the text, and then reduced to slide to the next double-page spread, and frankly this caused issues on occasion, with a page disappearing or appearing out of order until I swiped back and then forward again, which seemed to fix it. Do not proceed to page 33 or you will become stuck like I did, unable to swipe back from it! You have to use the slider at the bottom of the screen to get back. Those irritations aside, the book is fully-illustrated and very colorful, but it's not all imagery - there is a lot of text supporting each page and the book is quite long for a children's book, but it is packed with information and interesting facts, and the last few pages have timelines to augment the text.

There is a small boy and a small girl who appear on each double-page whom you're encouraged to look for, and who are dressed in the fashion of the time, and there is also a search exercise at the back where you look at a series of smaller images taken from the earlier pages and then try to find which page it came from. Doubtlessly that would be easier in a print book too. Little kids will have a blast with that while learning something important about how we humans love to adorn ourselves for better or for worse as each page transports them progressively to a different era, and often a different country. I commend this as a fun and education book.