Thorough, clearly presented scientific information is lightened by silly asides from dog-narrator Rudy to keep readers...

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DOGS

FROM PREDATOR TO PROTECTOR

From the Science Comics series

In-depth science about dogs is presented in a graphic-novel format in this latest Science Comics installment for middle graders.

Rudy, the story’s narrator, is an engaging mutt who loves to chase a ball. While at the dog park with his person, Rudy chases after a ball and goes back in time to “25,000 BP (before present),” when there were no dogs, only a wolflike ancestor. In this prehistory, Rudy introduces readers to the science of genetics and recessive and dominant traits as well as how they determine behavior and appearance. From genetics, Rudy delves into evolution and natural selection, explaining scientifically how dogs evolved from their wolflike ancestor. As the book continues, Rudy moves readers through time and geography while explaining dog physiology, the hows and whys of their behavior and communication, as well as artificial selection: the science of human-created dog breeds. The scope and depth of information is truly impressive and could be formidable, but the comic-book format keeps things on the accessible side as well as helping to illustrate more complex points. There is a glossary at the back for definitions, and scientific words are printed in boldface throughout.

Thorough, clearly presented scientific information is lightened by silly asides from dog-narrator Rudy to keep readers entertained and engaged as they learn a huge amount about the science of dogs. (further reading) (Graphic nonfiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-767-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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A splendid volume for young adventurers.

SURVIVOR KID

A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO WILDERNESS SURVIVAL

Based on her work with middle-school students, Long offers lessons on how to stay healthy and out of trouble while awaiting rescue, the same lessons taught to adults in her survival classes.

Her matter-of-fact, no-nonsense tone will play well with young readers, and the clear writing style is appropriate to the content. The engaging guide covers everything from building shelters to avoiding pigs and javelinas. With subjects like kissing bugs, scorpions, snow blindness and “How going to the bathroom can attract bears and mountain lions,” the volume invites browsing as much as studying. The information offered is sometimes obvious: “If you find yourself facing an alligator, get away from it”; sometime humorous: Raccoons will “fight with your dog, steal all your food, then climb up a tree and call you bad names in raccoon language”; and sometimes not comforting: “When alligators attack on land, they usually make one grab at you; if they miss, you are usually safe.” But when survival is at stake, the more information the better, especially when leavened with some wit. An excellent bibliography will lead young readers to a host of fascinating websites, and 150 clipart-style line drawings complement the text.

A splendid volume for young adventurers. (index not seen) (Nonfiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-56976-708-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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Pretty but insubstantial.

THE BIG BOOK OF BIRDS

Zommer surveys various bird species from around the world in this oversized (almost 14 inches tall tall) volume.

While exuberantly presented, the information is not uniformly expressed from bird to bird, which in the best cases will lead readers to seek out additional information and in the worst cases will lead to frustration. For example, on spreads that feature multiple species, the birds are not labeled. This happens again later when the author presents facts about eggs: Readers learn about camouflaged eggs, but the specific eggs are not identified, making further study extremely difficult. Other facts are misleading: A spread on “city birds” informs readers that “peregrine falcons nest on skyscrapers in New York City”—but they also nest in other large cities. In a sexist note, a peahen is identified as “unlucky” because she “has drab brown feathers” instead of flashy ones like the peacock’s. Illustrations are colorful and mostly identifiable but stylized; Zommer depicts his birds with both eyes visible at all times, even when the bird is in profile. The primary audience for the book appears to be British, as some spreads focus on European birds over their North American counterparts, such as the mute swan versus the trumpeter swan and the European robin versus the American robin. The backmatter, a seven-word glossary and an index, doesn’t provide readers with much support.

Pretty but insubstantial. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-500-65151-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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