A lively account of a watershed event.



A testament to the 1969 Cuyahoga River fire, which helped to spark Earth Day and the environmental movement.

The fire itself was quickly doused and only a minor news story (the Cuyahoga, located in Cleveland, Ohio, having already, the author notes, caught fire 13 times since 1886), but thanks in part to crusading Detroit Mayor Carl Stokes—and, really, the times—it proved a tipping point in the history of environmental legislation and activism. In occasionally imprecise but vivid prose punctuated by incendiary KABOOMs, Wittenstein explains how the river became a “toxic soup of wood, metal, chemicals, oil, and even animal body parts” ripe for combustion, as were rivers in other industrial cities (“They were KABOOMING out of control!”). “People,” he writes, “finally opened their ears and eyes. They were tired of holding their noses.” But despite ending the main narrative with an optimistic observation that the river is clean enough today for fish to survive in it, he closes with an author’s note that offers a strong reminder that pollution and climate change remain deadly challenges: “This is not a movie. This is the world we have created.” Between views of prehistoric mastodons splashing in the unspoiled river and modern picnickers catching and cooking a fish (which is actually legal now), Hartland depicts racially diverse groups of firefighters, officials, marchers with signs in various languages, tourists in boats, and city dwellers in increasingly cleaned-up settings. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A lively account of a watershed event. (timeline, source notes, resource and organization lists, photo, map) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: today

ISBN: 9781534480834

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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Tantalizing glimpses of hidden natural treasures, with breathtaking art.


An invitation to share some of the world’s speleological wonders.

Lit by the flashlights of small visitors, huge, rugged, shadowy spaces beckon in Chock’s powerfully atmospheric illustrations as Beckerman’s accompanying mix of free-verse commentary and blocks of explanations in smaller type turn general impressions into specific sites and sights. Among the latter are the dazzling tangle of giant selenite crystals in Mexico’s Cueva de los Cristales, ancient cave paintings at Lascaux in France, an immense underwater cave system in Florida, and (for truly courageous adventurers) the “silently squirming ceiling” of glowworms in New Zealand’s Waitomo Caves. The author also pays particular tribute to the group of women who ventured into the constricted reaches (judged too narrow for men) of South Africa’s Rising Star cave system to uncover fossils of a new prehistoric cousin, Homo naledi. All around the world caves are waiting “for / wondering, / wandering / explorers / like you,” she concludes. “Do you dare?” For those who might, the book closes with lists of safety rules and recommended caving gear. Tiny spelunkers in the art are nearly all bundled up and facing away from viewers, but some at least are plainly children, and an observation that the floors of some lava tubes in Australia are flat enough for wheelchairs makes Beckerman’s invitation even more inclusive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Tantalizing glimpses of hidden natural treasures, with breathtaking art. (cave facts, author’s and illustrator’s notes, photos) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-72662-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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Together with its companions, too rushed to be first introductions but suitable as second ones.


From the Graphic Science Biographies series

A highlights reel of the great scientist’s life and achievements, from clandestine early schooling to the founding of Warsaw’s Radium Institute.

In big sequential panels Bayarri dashes through Curie’s career, barely pausing at significant moments (“Mother! A letter just arrived. It’s from Sweden,” announces young Irène. “Oh, really?…They’re awarding me another Nobel!”) in a seeming rush to cover her youth, family life, discoveries, World War I work, and later achievements (with only a closing timeline noting her death, of “aplastic anemia”). Button-eyed but recognizable figures in the panels pour out lecture-ish dialogue. This is well stocked with names and scientific terms but offered with little or no context—characteristics shared by co-published profiles on Albert Einstein and the Theory of Relativity (“You and your thought experiments, Albert!” “We love it! The other day, Schrödinger thought up one about a cat”), Charles Darwin and the Theory of Evolution, and Isaac Newton and the Laws of Motion. Dark-skinned Tierra del Fuegans make appearances in Darwin, prompting the young naturalist to express his strong anti-slavery views; otherwise the cast is white throughout the series. Engagingly informal as the art and general tone of the narratives are, the books will likely find younger readers struggling to keep up, but kids already exposed to the names and at least some of the concepts will find these imports, translated from the Basque, helpful if, at times, dry overviews.

Together with its companions, too rushed to be first introductions but suitable as second ones. (glossary, index, resource list) (Graphic biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-7821-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Graphic Universe

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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