Anecdotal, loopily organized, but engaging. And chewy! (glossary, acknowledgments, endnotes with resources, index)...

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THE SLOWEST BOOK EVER

Sayre beckons kids to investigate and ruminate on slow-moving animals, slow-growing plants, slow motion, and plenty more.

In loosely arranged sections, the author adopts a conversational style to both inform and amuse curious students. She covers expected topics, such as the centuries-old sequoia tree, the land snail, and slow-forming geologic wonders like the Grand Canyon. But refreshing, often fleeting twists of topic, delivered with repeated exhortations for kids to slow down, ponder, and study, combine for a galloping volume that respects children as capable scientific thinkers. Sayre examines time’s effect on natural materials, from the Statue of Liberty’s copper to the erosion of gravestones. The origins of the air and water that compose human bodies get a look, as does the biology of intentionally slow practices such as tai chi and yoga. The concept of “slow” in art and culture—evidenced in the slow-food movement, the art of bonsai, and John Cage’s composition “As Slow as Possible” (which will last about 639 years)—is playfully introduced. Current scientists and their work are interwoven. Murphy’s cartoonish illustrations provide more humor than elucidation. The whole shebang winds up in outer space, where Sayre introduces concepts like light-years and dark matter and calls on kids to think “big, slow, chewy thoughts” about the expanding universe.

Anecdotal, loopily organized, but engaging. And chewy! (glossary, acknowledgments, endnotes with resources, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62091-783-1

Page Count: 168

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

GET THE SCOOP ON ANIMAL SNOT, SPIT & SLIME!

FROM SNAKE VENOM TO FISH SLIME, 251 COOL FACTS ABOUT MUCUS, SALIVA & MORE

Cusick floats a slick, select gallery of nature’s spitters, nose-pickers, oozers, and slimers—most but not all nonhuman—atop nourishing globs of scientific information.

Title notwithstanding, the book is limited just to mucus and saliva. Following introductory looks at the major components of each, Cusick describes their often similar uses in nature—in swallowing or expelling foreign matter, fighting disease, predation and defense, camouflage, travel, communication (“Aren’t you glad humans use words to communicate?”), home construction, nutrition, and more. All of this is presented in easily digestible observations placed among, and often referring to, color photos of slime-covered goby fish, a giraffe with its tongue up its nose, various drooling animals, including a white infant, and like photogenic subjects. Two simple experiments cater to hands-on types, but any readers who take delight in sentences like “Some fungus beetles eat snail slime mucus” come away both stimulated and informed.

What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63322-115-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Moondance/Quarto

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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The photos effectively convey the scope of Harvey’s impact, but while journalistically sound, this informative book doesn’t...

HURRICANE HARVEY

DISASTER IN TEXAS AND BEYOND

The devastation of 2017’s Hurricane Harvey is explained, from the storm’s origin to its ongoing aftermath, in this photo-heavy book.

In retelling the story of how a storm got so big it caused 82 deaths and billions of dollars in damage along the Texas coast, Minneapolis-based author Felix details the science of hurricanes for those unfamiliar and unpacks why this and a series of other hurricanes made for one of the most damaging weather years on record. Although it’s packed with info-boxes, a glossary, tips for safety during a hurricane and helping survivors afterward, a snapshot of five other historic hurricanes, and well-curated photos, it misses an opportunity to convey some of the emotion and pain victims endured and continue to feel. Instead, much of the text feels like a summation of news reports, an efficient attempt to answer the whys of Hurricane Harvey, with only a few direct quotations. Readers learn about Virgil Smith, a Dickinson, Texas, teen who rescued others from floodwaters with an air mattress, but the information is secondhand. The book does answer, clearly and concisely, questions a kid might have about a hurricane, such as what happens to animals at the zoo in such an emergency and how a tropical storm forms in the first place. A portion of the book’s proceeds are to be donated to the Texas Library Association’s Disaster Relief Fund.

The photos effectively convey the scope of Harvey’s impact, but while journalistically sound, this informative book doesn’t capture the fear and shock those who lived through the hurricane must have felt. (Nonfiction. 9-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2888-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2018

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