Old news, even to younger audiences, but a glossy edition of one of science’s most fundamental works.

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ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES

YOUNG READERS EDITION

The bible of evolution theory—condensed, glossed, furnished with updates, and enlivened with vivid photos and images.

Darwin’s magnum opus needs all the enlivening it can get, as even with considerable editorial work—which includes a substantial introduction, cutting two-thirds of the original text by removing outdated passages and excessive examples, combining chapters, defining unfamiliar words or usages in the margins, and reshaping some of the language—what remains is a lucid but dry mix of (now, at least) cautious claims and undocumented observations: “Mysterious laws govern the way variations occur within a species” Big, bright nature photos or period engravings and paintings on nearly every large spread do inject some juice, even if many seem more decorative than functional. More helpfully, supplemented by the occasional diagram, Stefoff’s frequent glosses and boxed side essays unpack major concepts, add historical context, explain how later scientific discoveries modify or support Darwin’s broad picture, and even studiously point out where the author went wrong. Young readers seeking to understand Darwin’s revolutionary insights and how he achieved them will have no trouble finding more concise accounts (including Stefoff’s own Charles Darwin and the Evolution Revolution, 1996), if none at once so handsomely presented and so close to the source.

Old news, even to younger audiences, but a glossy edition of one of science’s most fundamental works. (index, glossary, print and web resources) (Nonfiction. 13-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6249-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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BLIZZARD!

THE STORM THAT CHANGED AMERICA

In the same format as his Newbery Honor title The Great Fire (1995), Murphy brings the blizzard of 1888 to life. He shows how military weather-monitoring practices, housing and employment conditions, and politics regarding waste management, transportation monopolies, and utilities regulation, all contributed to—and were subsequently affected by—the disaster. He does so through an appealing narrative, making use of first-hand accounts whose sources he describes in his notes at the end (though, disappointingly he cites nothing directly in the text). The wealth of quotable material made available through the letters of members of “the Society of Blizzard Men and Blizzard Ladies” and other sources help to make the story vivid. Many drawings and photographs (some of the blizzard, but most of related scenes) illustrate the text. These large reproductions are all in a sepia-tone that matches the color of the typeface—an effect that feels over-the-top, but doesn’t detract significantly from the power of the story. Murphy’s ability to pull in details that lend context allows him to tell this story of a place in time through the lens of a single, dramatic episode that will engage readers. This is skillfully done: humorous, jaw-dropping, thought-provoking, and chilling. (index) (Nonfiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-590-67309-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2000

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I WANT TO BE AN ENVIRONMENTALIST

This glossy, colorful title in the “I Want To Be” series has visual appeal but poor organization and a fuzzy focus, which limits its usefulness. Each double-paged layout introduces a new topic with six to eight full-color photographs and a single column of text. Topics include types of environmentalists, eco-issues, waste renewal, education, High School of Environmental Studies, environmental vocabulary, history of environmentalism, famous environmentalists, and the return of the eagle. Often the photographs have little to do with the text or are marginal to the topic. For example, a typical layout called “Some Alternative Solutions” has five snapshots superimposed on a double-page photograph of a California wind farm. The text discusses ways to develop alternative forms of energy and “encourage environmentally friendly lifestyles.” Photos include “a healer who treats a patient with alternative therapy using sound and massage,” and “the Castle,” a house built of “used tires and aluminum cans.” Elsewhere, “Did You Know . . . ” shows a dramatic photo of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, but the text provides odd facts such as “ . . . that in Saudi Arabia there are solar-powered pay phones in the desert?” Some sections seem stuck in, a two-page piece on the effects of “El Niño” or 50 postage-stamp–sized photos of endangered species. The author concludes with places to write for more information and a list of photo credits. Pretty, but little here to warrant purchase. (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-15-201862-X

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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