cover image The Vast Wonder of the World: Biologist Ernest Everett Just

The Vast Wonder of the World: Biologist Ernest Everett Just

Mélina Mangal, illus. by Luisa Uribe. Millbrook, $19.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5124-8375-8

School librarian and biographer Mangal (Anne Hutchinson: Religious Reformer) highlights Ernest Everett Just, a little-known African-American scientist from the turn of the 20th century who unlocked the mysteries of “how the different parts of the cell worked together as new life developed.” Childhood hardships of disease and family deaths didn’t discourage Just from pursuing his passions; curiosity and a strong work ethic propelled him to success as a professor, embryologist, and cytologist, even in the midst of jim crow segregation laws. Just attended a school his mother created in South Carolina, and he paid his way through Dartmouth College while supporting his siblings after she passed away. In muted blue hues, pencil and digital scenes by Uribe (The Queen and the First Christmas Tree) depict the undeterred scientist, surrounded by tools of his craft, teaching at Howard University and working abroad: “Ernest worked in Europe as often and as long as he could, enjoying more warmth and respect than he’d ever felt in America.” Quotes from Just, as well as creators’ notes, a timeline, and source notes, wrap up this vivid, inspiring tribute to a noteworthy life. Ages 8–9. Illustrator’s agent: Alli Brydon, Bright USA. (Nov.)