I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma. ~ Eartha Kitt
Published October 2nd 2019
Coding, Creating and Activism
These books aim to tell young folk about some fascinating people and some of the many possibilities the world still holds.
1. Shigeru Miyamoto by Rachel Castro
This book is designed for early readers (aged around 6 or 7). It's about the life of Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of the wildly popular computer games Donkey Kong, Super Mario Brothers and The Legend of Zelda. Without this guy, I'd have to find something else to say "it's on like..."
There is some background about Miyamoto's early life, and suggestions for kids who are interested in getting into game design.
This book is part of the Norwood House Press STEM Superstars series of books, each of which profiles a different person's contribution to the STEM field. Other titles in the series include Temple Grandin, Mae Jemison and Lonnie Johnson. They're a nice basic introduction to the life of an influential person for kids who are interested in the STEM field.
Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary copy of this book by Norwood House Press, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Published: July 15, 2019
2. Mary Shelley by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara
This book is part of the Little People Big Dreams series of picture book biographies about influential people. Other titles include Josephine Baker,Simone de Beauvoir, Bruce Lee and Stephen Hawking. They are all written by the same author, but have different illustrators, and some of their styles work better with the content than others. This one is illustrated by Yelena Bryksenkova, whose art is stylised, but also full of delightful little details.
It tells the story of Mary Shelley, from her early years visiting her mother's grave, reading her mother's books and working on her own writing, to her creation of Frankenstein, arguably the first-ever science fiction novel.
It might be an interesting way to start a discussion with children about how women's work writing so often been claimed to have been written by a man.
Like all the Little People Big Dreams books, this one is written in simple sentences and would be suitable for younger readers, aged around 7 and up.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Frances Lincoln Childrens, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Published: October 1, 2019.
3. We are All Greta by Valentina Giannella
This book is aimed at an older age group than the other two (around 12 and up), although parts of it could be read aloud to a younger child. It aims to answer questions children might have about climate change, setting out the basics of the science required to understand it in an accessible way. It is illustrated with drawings by Manuela Marazzi.
It also gives a brief biography of the young Swedish activist, Greta Thunberg, and how she came to care about climate change so much.
I realise that the aim was to present things in simple easy to understand language, but I bristled a little at the description of Asperger's Syndrome as "a mild form of autism that does not interfere with learning or language". Many autistic people object to functioning labels, and to autism being referred to as "mild" (as the saying goes, "there is no mild autism, it's always spicy!").
Asperger's Syndrome (which technically no longer exists, having been subsumed by Autism Spectrum Disorder) does by definition "interfere with language", since difficulties with verbal and non-verbal communication are part of the diagnostic criteria for autism. It can also interfere with learning in many ways, which I don't really have time to get into here. I'm sure the authors thought they were giving Greta a compliment by describing her autism as "mild", but they're actually selling her short by minimising the difficulties she has faced in her life. Greta's autism doesn't mean that she should be taken any less seriously, but it's simply not accurate to describe it that way.
That small hiccough aside, I found the rest of the book interesting and informative. It aims to clear up some common misunderstandings, such as the difference between "climate" and "weather", and talks about the effects of climate change we can already see, and what can be done to try and halt its progress.
We Are All Greta is an informative book that aims to inspire, rather than alarm. It's a good read, and not just for children.
Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary copy of this book by Laurence King Publishing Ltd, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.