An engaging, entertaining compendium that will inform and confound.

IT'S ALIVE!

From the Two Truths and a Lie series

With “fake news” now such a prominent topic of conversation, a book that asks readers to separate bizarre but true stories about nature from fake ones is quite timely.

This is the first of a series that presents Ripley’s Believe It or Not–type true stories about the natural world alongside Barnum-esque fabrications and challenges readers to discern the real from the fake. Two out of every three stories are completely true, and one is an outright lie. Some false stories are based on fact, and others are complete imagination. All the stories are accompanied by color photos, maps, and illustrations. Some of the strange but true subjects include fungus-infected zombie ants, book scorpions, and a chicken named Mike that lived for several years after being beheaded. The fabrications include a walking moss that feeds off decomposing animals, the worm-size African threadsnake that lives in the ears of wild dogs and consumes earwax, and the Amazon “megaconda.” Unlike the bogus tree octopuses that supposedly inhabit trees in the Pacific Northwest, most of these invented phenomena are convincing and difficult to separate from the real. It is up to readers to sort out the fakes from the facts. Sound advice is given on how to seek and evaluate information online, and, for the impatient, the fakes are revealed in an appendix.

An engaging, entertaining compendium that will inform and confound. (photos, maps, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-241879-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both.

FLASH FACTS

Flash, Batman, and other characters from the DC Comics universe tackle supervillains and STEM-related topics and sometimes, both.

Credited to 20 writers and illustrators in various combinations, the 10 episodes invite readers to tag along as Mera and Aquaman visit oceanic zones from epipelagic to hadalpelagic; Supergirl helps a young scholar pick a science-project topic by taking her on a tour of the solar system; and Swamp Thing lends Poison Ivy a hand to describe how DNA works (later joining Swamp Kid to scuttle a climate-altering scheme by Arcane). In other episodes, various costumed creations explain the ins and outs of diverse large- and small-scale phenomena, including electricity, atomic structure, forensic techniques, 3-D printing, and the lactate threshold. Presumably on the supposition that the characters will be more familiar to readers than the science, the minilectures tend to start from simple basics, but the figures are mostly both redrawn to look more childlike than in the comics and identified only in passing. Drawing styles and page designs differ from chapter to chapter but not enough to interrupt overall visual unity and flow—and the cast is sufficiently diverse to include roles for superheroes (and villains) of color like Cyborg, Kid Flash, and the Latina Green Lantern, Jessica Cruz. Appended lists of websites and science-based YouTube channels, plus instructions for homespun activities related to each episode, point inspired STEM-winders toward further discoveries.

Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both. (Graphic nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77950-382-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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