This new series highlights visionary figures and their contributions to science, research, and exploration. Daring American Heroes of Flight begins with the Wright Brothers and follows a chronological path covering aviation pioneers, including Bessie Coleman, Amelia Earhart, Neil Armstrong, and Sally Ride. Similarly, Inspiring African-American Inventors focuses on well-known African American visionaries, such as George Washington Carver, and lesser-known but important figures such as Jan E. Matzeliger, who invented the automated shoe-lasting machine, and Madam C. J. Walker, who developed a line of haircare products specifically for African Americans and became the first self-made female African American millionaire. The series, which also includes Brilliant African-American Scientists: Nine Exceptional Lives and Astonishing Ancient World Scientists: Eight Great Brains, follows a consistent format, with ten- to sixteen-page profiles covering the subject's early days, influences, and lasting contributions to his or her particular field. Each profile includes an individual "lifeline" chronology; photographs and other eye-catching graphics; and Web-site screenshots, some of which can be accessed via the publisher's MyReportLinks.com, whereas others must be accessed directly. Overall this series largely succeeds in providing information that is both useful and appealing. The publisher identifies the books as appropriate for sixth grade and up, but an upper limit of eighth or ninth grade would have been appropriate, as these books are too basic for most high school students. In addition, the labeling of Web sites as "approved" may be misleading to any student whose teacher has disallowed the use of the Internet for a given assignment. Nonetheless these books are useful and are to be commended for the diversity of subjects covered. As such, this series certainly belongs in middle school, junior high school, and public libraries. Reviewer: Amy Sisson
When I was growing up the only African-Americans that I remember being mentioned in civics class, social studies or history class were Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver. I also knew of Madam C.J. Walker because, as a teenager, I worked part-time for a man who sold her products. On top of that most of these courses only had about one or two sentences about their accomplishments. I hated these courses because I knew there was more to African-American history than I was being exposed to in school. My own sense told me that there were other African- Americans who had done great things. It is nice to see books such as this providing information about African-Americans inventors like Lonnie Johnson, who worked for NASA and who invented the Super Soaker toy gun, and Dr. Patricia E. Bath, who invented the laserphaco which is used to treat cataracts. Thank you Dr. Bath. Your invention removed my cataracts. An important feature of this book is the "Report Links," Internet sites that provides up-to-date document sources and pictures, valuable to anyone doing research or writing a report on African-American inventors. Part of the "Great Scientists and Famous Inventors" series. Reviewer: Leila Toledo
Gr 4-8–These eclectic collective biographies cover eight or nine scientists each. The 10-to-15-page entries include basic personal information but concentrate on career achievements, such as Al-Khwarizmi's documentation of practical uses of algebra (Ancient World Scientists) and George Washington Carver's work on crop rotation (African-American Inventors). An important aspect of each entry is the list of relevant Web sites that can be accessed through the publisher's site and that will be maintained until at least 2014. Overall, this series provides some solid information about well-known and lesser-known individuals important in their fields.