A must for middle-grade animal lovers.




Safina recounts time spent and insights gained among elephants and orcas in their native habitats.

The text, adapted from his 2015 book for adults, has been unerringly edited for young readers. Safina insists that the best research focuses on understanding the animals themselves. He subtly reminds readers of this while keeping them entranced by true stories highlighting the complex social behaviors, intelligence, and compassion of the largest land mammals and the largest dolphins on our planet. Of course, comparisons to ourselves cannot be ignored, as examples of these gentle giants teaching their young, being creative, and showing empathy abound. Photographs of daily lives of elephants and orcas accompany many of the short, conversational chapters. The first part of the book is devoted to elephants and the second to orcas, with a brief interlude in which the author describes similarities between the apparently disparate species. In one of many amusing quips, he invites readers to “think of it this way: An elephant is a mammal outfitted for hiking, a whale is outfitted for diving…under the gear, there’s a lot in common.” The hardest chapters are “Ivory” and “The Cost of Captivity,” which bring home the somber truths about horrific damage done to both species by human beings. However, the overall tone is a winning mixture of reverence, wonder, and even playfulness.

A must for middle-grade animal lovers. (notes, selected bibliography, index) (Nonfiction.10-14)

Pub Date: April 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-14463-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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An interesting, engaging collection of snapshot profiles that will encourage readers to explore further and perhaps pursue...



With STEM now the hot trend in education and concerted efforts to encourage girls to explore scientific fields, this collective biography is most timely.

Swaby offers 33 brief profiles of some of the world’s most influential women in science, organized in loose groupings: technology and innovation, earth and stars, health and medicine, and biology. Some of the figures, such as Mary Anning, Rachel Carson, Florence Nightingale, Sally Ride, and Marie Tharp, have been written about for young readers, but most have not. Among the lesser known are Stephanie Kwolek, the American chemist who invented Kevlar; Yvonne Brill, the Canadian engineer who invented a thruster used in satellites; Elsie Widdowson, the British nutritionist who demonstrated how important fluid and salt are for the body to properly function; and Italian neuroembryologist Rita Levi-Montalcini, who made breakthrough discoveries in nerve-cell growth. Swaby emphasizes that most of these scientists had to overcome great obstacles before achieving their successes and receiving recognition due to gender-based discrimination. She also notes that people are not born brilliant scientists and that it’s through repeated observation, experimentation, and testing of ideas that important discoveries are made.

An interesting, engaging collection of snapshot profiles that will encourage readers to explore further and perhaps pursue their own scientific curiosities. (source notes, bibliography) (Collective biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-55396-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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A coherent if unexceptional overview of the subject given a solid boost by the visuals.



Finely detailed cutaway views of spacecraft and satellites launch a broad account of space exploration’s past, present, and near future.

Jenkins begins with the journey of Voyager I, currently the “most distant man-made object ever,” then goes back to recap the history of astronomy, the space race, and the space-shuttle program. He goes on to survey major interplanetary probes and the proliferating swarm of near-Earth satellites, then closes with reflections on our current revived interest in visiting Mars and a brief mention of a proposed “space elevator.” This is all familiar territory, at least to well-read young skywatchers and would-be astronauts, and despite occasional wry observations (“For longer stays [in space], things to consider include staying fit and healthy, keeping clean, and not going insane”) it reads more like a digest than a vivid, ongoing story. Biesty’s eye for exact, precise detail is well in evidence in the illustrations, though, and if one spread of generic residents of the International Space Station is the only place his human figures aren’t all white and male, at least he offers riveting depictions of space gear and craft with every last scientific instrument and structural element visible and labeled.

A coherent if unexceptional overview of the subject given a solid boost by the visuals. (index, timeline, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: June 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8931-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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