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A delightfully enlightening account and a welcome antidote to our own time’s precarious truthiness.

The story of Thomas Jefferson’s fury at a French scientist’s misinformation about the New World introduces young readers to the scientific inquiry process.

While Jefferson and the other American revolutionaries fought for independence from Britain, he undertook a lesser-known battle—against scientific misinformation. Jefferson loved the natural world: He collected fossils and bones and took pride in accurately measuring everything from air temperature to the weight of catfish. So it was galling to him when French scientist Count Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon published an encyclopedia declaring the New World “swampy and cold,” with small bears and “puny” wolves—inferior to Europe. Anderson cleverly juxtaposes Buffon’s faulty scientific claims alongside Jefferson’s colorful outrage: “Hogwash!” “Poppycock!” She succinctly lays out Jefferson’s critique: Buffon had never been to the New World—was he biased? Where did he get his information? To convince Buffon of his errors, Jefferson sought evidence—measurements of New World animals, pelts to prove their existence, even an actual moose. Holmes wittily presents Jefferson’s inquiries through comic-book panels depicting heads exploding with arguments set against sepia-colored notebook pages. In an author’s note, Anderson calls out Jefferson for his bias as the owner of enslaved persons and for his lack of forethought in how Americans’ exploration of the Louisiana Purchase would affect Indigenous people.

A delightfully enlightening account and a welcome antidote to our own time’s precarious truthiness. (timeline of Thomas Jefferson’s life, bibliography) (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 14, 2024

ISBN: 9781635926200

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Astra Books for Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2024

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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

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An in-depth and visually pleasing look at one of the most fundamental forces in the universe.

An introduction to gravity.

The book opens with the most iconic demonstration of gravity, an apple falling. Throughout, Herz tackles both huge concepts—how gravity compresses atoms to form stars and how black holes pull all kinds of matter toward them—and more concrete ones: how gravity allows you to jump up and then come back down to the ground. Gravity narrates in spare yet lyrical verse, explaining how it creates planets and compresses atoms and comparing itself to a hug. “My embrace is tight enough that you don’t float like a balloon, but loose enough that you can run and leap and play.” Gravity personifies itself at times: “I am stubborn—the bigger things are, the harder I pull.” Beautiful illustrations depict swirling planets and black holes alongside racially diverse children playing, running, and jumping, all thanks to gravity. Thorough backmatter discusses how Sir Isaac Newton discovered gravity and explains Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. While at times Herz’s explanations may be a bit too technical for some readers, burgeoning scientists will be drawn in.

An in-depth and visually pleasing look at one of the most fundamental forces in the universe. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 15, 2024

ISBN: 9781668936849

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2024

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