Splendidly entertaining and informative—ideal for any kid interested in fossils.



A debut children’s book describes the contributions of women past and present to paleontology in the United States.

Most kids are fascinated by fossils, especially of dinosaurs, but they may not know about the female experts who have helped advance the science of paleontology. As the book acknowledges, most workers in this field have been men, mainly because “many men did not think women should have jobs, go to college, or become scientists.” Nevertheless, they persisted. From Annie Montague Alexander (1867-1950) through Phoebe Cohen (“alive and digging!”), this volume highlights some of the female paleontologists’ greatest exploits. Alexander, for example, discovered the fossilized bones of a prehistoric marine reptile in 1903; with her companion Louise Kellogg, she donated more than 20,000 specimens to the University of California. In her book, Stricker offers approachable chunks of information in a friendly, graphic-novel format, which succeeds in making the pursuit of science sound like an exciting adventure. Though the work is keyed to young readers, nothing is dumbed down, and the author carefully shows why the paleontologists’ achievements were significant. Debut illustrator McGillis’ highly appealing and informative images strongly support the text; the women’s personalities come alive, and vivid details show historic and scientific context. About to flee Nazi Germany, a Jewish scientist, Tilly Edinger, reflects: “One way or the other, fossil vertebrates will save me.” She went on to found the field of paleoneurology.

Splendidly entertaining and informative—ideal for any kid interested in fossils.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-87710-521-3

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Paleontological Research Institution

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.


Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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