From School Library Journal
Grade 3-6–This book profiles nine people who made significant contributions to science while still quite young. Louis Braille and Robert Goddard are among the more famous, while others, such as television pioneer Philo Farnsworth and Venetia Burney, the girl who named Pluto, are less well known. Most of the figures are historical, but the inclusion of a couple of young geniuses from the 1990s adds contemporary perspective. All of them, four girls and five boys, are from Europe or the United States. The lively and lighthearted text conveys a sense of the excitement of discovery, with an appropriate amount of background information, along with the biographical facts. With Mary Anning, for instance, readers learn about the important fossil discoveries she made, and also get a general sense of early-19th-century paleontology. The Pluto chapter has just a couple of paragraphs about 11-year-old Venetia Burney, with more space devoted to the process by which planets get named, while the Isaac Asimov chapter follows his whole life and career. This varied emphasis keeps the material fresh and shows the diverse circumstances from which youthful inspiration can arise. Lively cartoon pen-and-ink illustrations, all in greens and grays, help to unify the individual chapters. There are a few tips on how kids can follow in the footsteps of these young achievers, but there's more emphasis on the general qualities of curiosity and hard work that can produce amazing results.–Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR
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Gr. 3-6. At the age of 14, Philo T. Farnsworth sketched a device that would, many refinements later, become known as the television set. Mary Anning, the British "Princess of Paleontology," was the first to discover an ichthyosaur specimen at age 12. Readers will also find profiles of seven other figures, though some fit less snugly into the "Extraordinary Young People in Science" category claimed by the subtitle. A few were fairly seasoned by the time they made their seminal contributions (the author tends to glide over exact dates, making calculating ages difficult), and Isaac Asimov, strictly speaking, worked more in fiction than in science. But kids won't mind that the organizing principle is a bit elastic; the stories themselves remain interesting and inspiring. Cannell's sprightly sketches, often mimicking doodles in a lab notebook, convey the gung-ho enthusiasm that links all the subjects. Further readings are appended; source notes would have made this even better. Jennifer MattsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved