Overall, a winning tribute to a scientific dreamer who was both a man of his times and, often, well ahead of them.

NIKOLA TESLA FOR KIDS

HIS LIFE, IDEAS, AND INVENTIONS, WITH 21 ACTIVITIES

From the For Kids series

A searching portrait of the troubled, visionary Serbian-American inventor, with simple hands-on projects that touch on his life and interests.

O’Quinn describes in some detail the achievements for which Tesla is best remembered—from the Tesla coil and the practical generation of AC electricity to an advanced type of turbine—as well as his conflicts with Thomas Edison and Guglielmo Marconi. She promotes him as both a pacifist (notwithstanding his visions of particle-beam superweapons) and a conservationist whose experiments with wireless power transmission were spurred at least in part by environmental concerns. Without psychologizing she also notes his secretive nature, his tendencies to live beyond his means and to con investors, his now-disturbing eugenics theories, and his nomadic last years as a reclusive urban pigeon feeder. Period photos and patent drawings depict the hawk-nosed inventor, his work, his rivals, and his friends, and there are further resources aplenty at the end for curious or tantalized readers. Young experimenters hoping to fire up megavolt blasts of sparks or light bulbs held in their bare hands as Tesla did will be disappointed by the inserted projects, which begin with generating static electricity on a balloon and go on to demonstrations of magnetic fields and electromagnetism, writing an autobiography, and suchlike depressingly nonhazardous activities.

Overall, a winning tribute to a scientific dreamer who was both a man of his times and, often, well ahead of them. (index, timeline, endnotes) (Biography. 11-13)

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-912777-21-4

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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Far from comprehensive but visually arresting and, at times, provocative.

HUMAN BODY

From the Information Graphics series

Stylized graphics rendered in saturated hues set this quick overview of body systems apart from the general run.

Arranged in tabbed and color-coded sections, the tour covers familiar ground but often from an unusual angle. The tally of human senses at the beginning, for instance, includes “proprioception” (physical multitasking), and ensuing chapters on the skeletal, circulatory and other systems are capped with a miscellany of body contents and products—from selected parasites and chemicals to farts and sweat. Likewise, descriptions of a dozen physical components of the “Brain Box” are followed by notes on more slippery mental functions like “Consciousness” and “Imagination.” The facts and observations gathered by Rogers are presented as labels or captions. They are interspersed on each spread with flat, eye-dazzling images designed by Grundy not with anatomical correctness in mind but to show processes or relationships at a glance. Thus, to show body parts most sensitive to touch, a silhouette figure sports an oversized hand and foot, plus Homer Simpson lips (though genitals are absent, which seems overcautious as an explicit section on reproduction follows a few pages later), and a stack of bathtubs illustrates the quantity of urine the average adult produces in an average lifetime (385 bathtubs’ worth). There is no backmatter.

Far from comprehensive but visually arresting and, at times, provocative. (Nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7123-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Big Picture/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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Skimps on early days and non-European ways but lays out some groundwork for budding investigators.

SCENE OF THE CRIME

TRACKING DOWN CRIMINALS WITH FORENSIC SCIENCE

From the Invention & Impact series , Vol. 3

How nabbing perps has gone from using “guesswork, gossip…and even ghosts” to DNA analysis.

Newquist stumbles out of the starting gate with a radically simplistic overview of the pre-modern development of laws and law enforcement (“much of the Western world was in chaos during a time known as the Middle Ages”) and misses or neglects to mention that the standard Henry Classification System for fingerprints was actually invented by Indian mathematicians. Once he gets to mid-18th-century London’s proto-police “Bow Street Runners,” however, he goes on to deliver a reasonably straightforward account of how tools and techniques from blood typing to ballistics became incorporated into today’s forensic science. Also, he balances nods to the positive contributions of prominent criminologists like Alphonse Bertillon and Frances Glessner Lee with a sharp critique of their colleague Francis Galton’s belief in eugenics. He takes closer looks at groundbreaking cases and how they were solved (or not), tucks in topical glossaries as well as directions for homespun activities like collecting fingerprints and analyzing blood spatters (the latter using, thankfully, paint or food coloring), and closes with looks at theoretical advances such as “molecular photofitting,” which involves leveraging DNA to create physical descriptions. In the mix of historical portraits, documents, and crime-scene photos, all of the human figures are White, though several on both sides of the law are women.

Skimps on early days and non-European ways but lays out some groundwork for budding investigators. (index, resource list) (Nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-451-47646-3

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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