Think Smart, Be Fearless: A Biography of Bill Gates

by Sharon Mentyka (Author) Vivien Mildenberger (Illustrator)

Think Smart, Be Fearless: A Biography of Bill Gates
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
How do fearless ideas begin? Travel along with young Bill Gates on his life's journey full of curiosity, discovery, hard work, and most important, fearlessness--the inability to see limits. The book invites young readers to pursue their passions and awaken a sense of ambition and responsibility for others as they grow. Think Smart, Be Fearless tells the inspiring story of Bill Gates, one of America's most fascinating entrepreneurs, starting from his early years as a precocious, inquisitive child who faced challenges fitting in with his classmates. Young Bill, known as Trey in his family, was a bit of a troublemaker, bored at school and prone to acting out. That all changed in high school with his discovery of the early world of computers. His instincts immediately told him that computers were the future. With the support of his family, who encouraged him to think smart and be fearless, Bill grew to become a technology visionary, who changed the way everyday people interact with computers, and a philanthropist whose inability to see limits is working to reduce poverty and improve global health worldwide. Complete with back matter that includes a more in-depth look into Bill Gates's life, a timeline of significant events in his life and in computer science, and a glossary for inquisitive kids.

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School Library Journal

Gr 1-5--This ambitious picture book biography attempts to cover the entirety of Bill Gates's life. Thus, the sweeping approach makes the work feel weighed down. Certain connections in the text are unclear. For example, Paul Allen is introduced as a fellow student at Lakeside School, but he is not mentioned again until Bill is at Harvard and "Paul burst into Bill's dorm room." Mildenberger's enchanting illustrations are full of clever thematic details, like the clouds of zeroes and ones that follow Gates around after he discovers coding. Yet there is a disconnect between the age of the audience who would most appreciate the art and readers who would most likely be able to process the depth and breadth of the text. VERDICT Children who are deeply interested in technology are likely to enjoy this book, but those without that specialized interest may lose motivation to read to the end. Recommended only as an additional purchase.--Elizabeth Lovsin, Deerfield Public Library, IL

Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

This addition to the Growing to Greatness series focuses its beam on Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who helped spur the personal computing revolution. Mentyka's lengthy biography recounts how Gates voraciously played games and consumed books, and was inspired by the 1962 World's Fair as well as a Teletype machine. From high school and Harvard to Microsoft and the Gates Foundation, the text spotlights its subject's intense pursuit of his interests and his appetite for risk: "If someone told him he was too young, too inexperienced, or something was too difficult, it only made him work harder and think smarter." Mildenberger renders her naïf illustrations in muted hues, and relevant visuals--zeroes and ones, computer keyboards, and myriad worries--ribbon through spreads. Extensive back matter offers a glossary of computer terms, a timeline of Gates's life until 2017 twined with computer history, and more details about the entrepreneur. Ages 5-9. (Oct.)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"Eye-opening for young people who often take their technology for granted." —Kirkus Reviews

"Mildenberger renders her naïf illustrations in muted hues, and relevant visuals—zeroes and ones, computer keyboards, and myriad worries—ribbon through spreads." —Publishers Weekly

"Mildenberger's enchanting illustrations are full of clever thematic details, like the clouds of zeroes and ones that follow Gates around after he discovers coding."—School Library Journal
Sharon Mentyka
SHARON MENTYKA is a children's writer and teacher whose stories grow from small kernels of truth and explore common themes: fairness, transitions, and the complicated path to finding your own voice. Her middle-grade novel Chasing at the Surface was named the 2016 children's winner of the National Outdoor Book Award. She is the author of Think Smart, Be Fearless: A Biography of Bill Gates.

ELLEN ROONEY is an illustrator, designer, and artist from the state of Massachusetts, who currently lives in the southern Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. She loves graphic shapes, collage, printmaking, painting, drawing outdoors, and finding new ways to create texture and color. She is the illustrator of Her Fearless Run, Dusk Explorers, Grandmother School, and other books for children.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Little Bigfoot
Publication date
October 20, 2019
Growing to Greatness

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