The Red Hat by David Teague, illustrated by Antoinette Portis (InfoSoup)
A boy named Billy Hightower lives at the top of the tallest building in the world, so high that he is above the clouds. Then one day, another building is built nearby. Billy soon sees a girl on top of the building wearing a red hat. Billy tries to call to her, but the wind sweeps away his words before she can hear them. He tries to send her a note via paper airplane, but the wind snatches that away too. The kite doesn’t work either. When Billy tries to use a blanket to fly across the gap to the girl, the wind pushes him down to street level and takes the girl’s hat too. The vicious wind continues to push Billy around, but soon Billy has figured out where the girl lives and finds a way through the wind to see her.
Teague keeps his text very simple in this picture book. He tells a straight forward story, but one that also is about loneliness and how important it is to reach another person. It is also clearly a book about love, about obstacles and finding an alternate way to connect and be together. Children may see it as a book more about wind, and that is completely wonderful too. Some of the best books work on different levels.
Portis’ illustrations use a little gimmick of the wind being shiny on the page. But these illustrations are beautiful in their simplicity and the wind itself is so capricious and involved in the story that it deserves its own style and feel. Done in only a few colors, the red pops on the page, the color of love.
A lovely picture book that can be enjoyed on different levels by different readers. It would make an interesting discussion for slightly older children about imagery and hidden meanings. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.
Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark, illustrated by April Chu (InfoSoup)
Ada Lovelace was born the daughter of the famous poet, Lord Byron. But she was more like her mother and interested in numbers rather than words. As a young woman, Ada invented a flying machine that she did all of the mathematics for. She spent time experimenting with wind and sails to inform her calculations. Despite a health scare that left her blind and paralyzed for some time, Ada continued to learn math and love numbers. When she met Charles Babbage, the inventor of the first mechanical computer, she found a person she could talk to about her love of numbers. It was his machine that inspired her to write the first computer program ever so that others could understand this amazing computer he had built. This makes Ada the first computer programmer.
It is inspiring to see a girl from such an early time period who was clearly a mathematical genius. She had a mother who was also interested in math and supported her daughter’s education and love of numbers throughout her life. This book shows the power of mathematics to inspire new ideas and inventions. It also demonstrates that women in computing goes back to the very beginning.
Chu’s art is done with pencil on paper and then as the copyright information says “colored on an Analytical Engine” also known as a computer. The illustrations are rich and lovely. They have interesting perspectives like looking down on Ada in the bath with her muddy boots on the floor nearby. Ada is shown as an active person, a youthful presence among older people, and shines on the page as she must have in life.
A powerful and inspirational read for children interested in math and science, this picture book will show young readers a heroine that they may never have met before. Appropriate for ages 7-10.
Reviewed from library copy.