Unfortunately, your access has now expired. But there’s good news—by subscribing today, you will receive 22 issues of Booklist magazine, 4 issues of Book Links, and single-login access to Booklist Online and over 200,000 reviews.
Your access to Booklist Online has expired. If you still subscribe to the print magazine, please proceed to your profile page and check your subscriber number against a current magazine mailing label. (If your print subscription has lapsed, you will need to renew.)
Free Trial, activate profile, or subscribe
Find more Focus on STEM
Some thinkers are also tinkerers. As they think, they play, working with their hands, trying this and that until it’s just right. Thinkers and tinkerers build and plant, paint and code. They make things that others can see, hear, and use. These new biographies and DIY project books will help inspire the thinking, tinkering makers at your school or library.
Tinkering with Tech
Beauty and brains? In the picture-book biography Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life: Hollywood Legend and Brilliant Inventor, by Laurie Wallmark, readers discover a 1930s movie star, also known as “the world’s most beautiful woman,” who tinkered with tech and invented things that are still inside personal electronic devices today. The YA biography Dreaming in Code: Ada Byron Lovelace, Computer Pioneer, by Emily Arnold McCully, portrays a complex child, teen, and woman who loved math so much that she became “the first computer programmer.”
See how taking things apart and putting them back together in new ways led a young boy to artistic breakthroughs as a teen in the picture-book biography Guitar Genius: How Les Paul Engineered the Solid-Body Electric Guitar and Rocked the World, by Kim Tomsic. The visual arts are highlighted in Dancing through Fields of Color: The Story of Helen Frankenthaler, a picture-book biography by Elizabeth Brown. This artist creates her own rules and invents a new way to paint with the abstract expressionist “soak-stain method” that students can try themselves.
Secret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn Bridge, by Rachel Dougherty, shows a woman who loved math and science so much that she picked up the pieces and finished the project stalled by her father-in-law’s death and her husband’s illness. The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng, a picture-book biography by Sophia Gholz, begins with an observant child who took action to save the animals losing their homes to the rising waters. Forty years later, he is known as the “Forest Man of India.”
The rhyming picture book Be a Maker, by Katey Howes, shows a girl and a boy making things with others in their community and invites readers to join in. Use it to inspire dramatic play in preschool and kindergarten and civic initiatives for older readers. Independent readers can use these three makerspace project books with specific directions and keep tinkering as they try out their own ideas: Make This! Building, Thinking, and Tinkering Projects for the Amazing Maker in You, by Ella Schwartz, has both step-by-step directions and open-ended prompts. More Curious Jane: Science + Design + Engineering for Inquisitive Girls, by Curious Jane, has a maker checklist (of necessary items and how to find them), with numbered, step-by-step instructions and photographs. Students can build 13 different crazy contraptions using the directions from Build Your Own Chain Reaction Machines: How to Make Crazy Contraptions Using Everyday Stuff, by Paul Long. Keep a cell phone camera handy and capture the fun!
Be a Maker. By Katey Howes. Illus. by Elizabet Vuković. 2019. Carolrhoda, $17.99 (9781512498028). PreS–Gr. 2.
The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng. By Sophia Gholz. Illus. by Kayla Harren. 2019. Sleeping Bear, $16.99 (9781534110243). K–Gr. 3.
Build Your Own Chain Reaction Machines: How to Make Crazy Contraptions Using Everyday Stuff. By Paul Long. 2018. Quarto/Quarry, $22.99 (9781631595264). Gr. 5–9.
Dancing through Fields of Color: The Story of Helen Frankenthaler. By Elizabeth Brown. Illus. by Aimée Sicuro. 2019. Abrams, $18.99 (9781419734106). Gr. 2–5.
Dreaming in Code: Ada Byron Lovelace, Computer Pioneer. By Emily Arnold McCully. Illus. by the author. 2019. Candlewick, $19.99 (9780763693565). Gr. 7–10.
Guitar Genius: How Les Paul Engineered the Solid-Body Electric Guitar and Rocked the World. By Kim Tomsic. Illus. by Brett Helquist. 2019. Chronicle, $17.99 (9781452159195). Gr. 1–3.
Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life: Hollywood Legend and Brilliant Inventor. By Laurie Wallmark. Illus. by Katy Wu. 2019. Sterling, $16.95 (9781454926917). Gr. 2–4.
Make This! Building, Thinking, and Tinkering Projects for the Amazing Maker in You. By Ella Schwartz. 2019. National Geographic, $16.99 (9781426333248). Gr. 5–8.
More Curious Jane: Science + Design + Engineering for Inquisitive Girls. By Curious Jane. 2019. Sterling, $16.95 (9781454931348). Gr. 3–6.
Secret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn Bridge. By Rachel Dougherty. Illus. by the author. 2019. Roaring Brook, $17.99 (9781250155320). Gr. 2–5.
From her studio in Northern California, Anastasia Suen reads, edits, and writes STEM books for makers of all ages, including the Spot Baby Farm Animals series (Amicus, 2019).
Free Trial, activate profile, or subscribe