Best for casual browsing; for systematic, reliable information, look elsewhere.

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NATURAL WORLD

A VISUAL COMPENDIUM OF WONDERS FROM NATURE

A broad overview of the biosphere, with hundreds of stylish plant and animal portraits.

Kitted out with a foldout poster jacket, multiple ribbons, and a color-coded system of margin tabs, this oversized album collects 67 topical “charts” presenting, in no apparent order, surveys of world habitats and ocean zones; introductions to taxonomy and food webs; arrays of bird beaks, feet, eggs, nests, and feathers; group portraits of related organisms and closer looks at selected single ones. Animals are the main focus, though other kingdoms draw at least some notice. Davey’s digital illustrations look like cut-paper collages—flat of surface and perspective, composed of multiple elements of diverse hue and pattern. The figures are generally recognizable and capable of putting on a grand show, as with one display of birds of paradise and another of tropical reef denizens. The lighting, though, is murky throughout, sometimes to the extent that physical details are obscured. Similarly, captions and blocks of explanatory text, which are all in minuscule type, are hard to see against the darker backgrounds. More problematically, readers will be left in the dark by unamplified claims that inorganic things are “not made of cells but of tiny things called particles,” and “some fish are more closely related to other vertebrates than they are to other fish.”

Best for casual browsing; for systematic, reliable information, look elsewhere. (index) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-84780-782-3

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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African-American Geo cuts a suitably chiseled figure in the pictures, but he doesn’t get enough to do and so is really no...

THE INCREDIBLE PLATE TECTONICS COMIC

From the Adventures of Geo series , Vol. 1

Superhero Geo introduces readers to plate tectonics.

Reviewing information on his way to school for a big geology test, young George transforms himself into “Geo,” a uniformed superhero with a rocket-propelled skateboard and a robotic canine sidekick. In his imaginary adventure, he leaps over sidewalk “faults,” swerves away from “tsunamis” splashed up by a passing truck and saves an elderly lady from falling into an open manhole “volcano.” Meanwhile, supported by visual aids provided by inserted graphics and maps, Geo goes over the convergent, divergent and transform movements of tectonic plates, subduction, magnetic “stripes” paralleling oceanic ridges and a host of other need-to-know facts and terms. All of this is illustrated in big, brightly colored sequential panels of cartoon art hung about with heavy blocks of explication. After the exam comes back with, natch, a perfect score (“I guess all that studying paid off”), Lee, a geophysicist, abandons the story for a final 10 pages of recap and further detail on plate tectonics’ causes, effects and measurement—closing with a description of what geologists do.

African-American Geo cuts a suitably chiseled figure in the pictures, but he doesn’t get enough to do and so is really no more than a mouthpiece—perhaps there will be more of a plot in his next adventure. (online projects, index) (Graphic nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59327-549-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: No Starch Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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Rosy, bland hero worship.

NEIL ARMSTRONG

FIRST MAN ON THE MOON

From the Trailblazers series

A panegyric to the “reluctant hero” who first stepped onto the moon’s surface.

Woolf digs into Armstrong’s life from first airplane ride at the age of 5 to his death in 2012, taking some glances behind the scenes but with a focus on heroic exploits during the Korean War, as a test pilot, and in space. The famous line is rendered “That’s one small step for [a] man,” with a disclaimer, but overall the author tells a sketchy tale with significant details missing—such as any mention of the racist and sexist aspects of this country’s early space program. Even the return flight of Apollo 11 is covered in just a timeline and one anticlimactic sentence: “After an uneventful ride back to Earth, the astronauts splashed down southwest of Hawaii.” Ho-hum. All or most of the black-and-white illustrations are (poorly) redrawn from photographs; despite inserted wisecracks and actual quotes, they are so lifeless that even a version of the renowned Earthrise has a drab, distant look. A scant handful of further resources and a space-exploration timeline that spans only 1973 to 2015 follow a closing flurry of tributes to Armstrong’s achievements and character. Armstrong is definitely a historical figure worth knowing…but the recent spate of more-nuanced and -dramatic accounts of the space program spoil readers for choice, and this doesn’t stand out as a first or even second one.

Rosy, bland hero worship. (glossary, index) (Biography. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-593-12401-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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