From the Books for a Better Earth series

Fact-loving, sea-loving, science-loving, and just plain curious readers will find much to chew over here.

Seaweed’s impressive mysteries and surprising potential.

Conversationally addressing readers, Sanchez adeptly conveys fascinating facts (“seaweed is as different from land plants as a bird is from a fish”) about her subject. Short sentences, accessible vocabulary, lively comparisons (e.g., drawing parallels between sea and avian predators like sharks and hawks), and revelations—like learning that seaweed affects even those who don’t live right by the ocean because it sustains air and water and provides food—will keep readers absorbed. Gleaming color photos are engaging and sometimes amusing, like a beach-strolling Holstein; cows have a big role in this book. There’s also some mystery (what is seaweed, exactly?), history (seaweed fossils; more recently, using Irish moss as fertilizer), and reimagining (Sanchez invites readers to see seaweed as an underwater forest). Climate change, inevitably, plays a role in this work, and some harmful potential of algae is noted, but seaweed’s positives (in the creation of bioplastics, medicines, and, especially, food) dominate. Finally, the book adroitly returns to the people, cows, and a question introduced in the first pages. The last chapter cites other potential uses (fuel, insulation, paper), celebrating seaweed’s future.

Fact-loving, sea-loving, science-loving, and just plain curious readers will find much to chew over here. (glossary, recipe for mermaid confetti, information on foraging for and eating seaweed, timeline, tips on seeing and saving seaweed, bibliography, source notes, photo credits, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-8234-5013-8

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2022

1001 BEES

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

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 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021


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

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. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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