Though not encyclopedic, the many topics addressed get first-class treatment.



A handsome and rangy selection of the world’s great systems and phenomena and their workings.

Gifford tackles a broad spectrum of processes, creations and biological systems that have both shaped and inhabited the planet—plus a few items out there in the solar system, such as the workings of the sun and the life and death of stars. But for the most part, the material deals with earthly concerns: how the Earth was formed and reformed; how the dinosaurs (may have) lived and (may have) died; how the sprinter sprints; how wind farms generate electricity; how bridges and tunnels are built, not to forget the pyramids and Roman roads; how one besieged a castle; how the Incans built an empire; how the pirates got rich.Gifford’s explanations are usually nicely sharp and concise—“An earthquake is a sudden release of built-up energy from Earth’s crust. Most earthquakes are caused by extreme forces and pressures that exist near faults—where two plates grind against each other or collide.” He leaves some room for further research at times, though: Fusion “creat[es] the nuclei of helium atoms—and energy.” Throughout, the artwork is marvelous, with bell-clear diagrams, wonderfully atmospheric, dioramalike historical drawings, and crisp photography, which often by themselves fill some of the gaps in the text.

Though not encyclopedic, the many topics addressed get first-class treatment. (Nonfiction/reference. 8-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7534-7119-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Kingfisher

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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Though usually cast as the trickster, Coyote is more victim than victimizer, making this a nice complement to other Coyote...


Two republished tales by a Greco-Cherokee author feature both folkloric and modern elements as well as new illustrations.

One of the two has never been offered south of the (Canadian) border. In “Coyote Sings to the Moon,” the doo-wop hymn sung nightly by Old Woman and all the animals except tone-deaf Coyote isn’t enough to keep Moon from hiding out at the bottom of the lake—until she is finally driven forth by Coyote’s awful wailing. She has been trying to return to the lake ever since, but that piercing howl keeps her in the sky. In “Coyote’s New Suit” he is schooled in trickery by Raven, who convinces him to steal the pelts of all the other animals while they’re bathing, sends the bare animals to take clothes from the humans’ clothesline, and then sets the stage for a ruckus by suggesting that Coyote could make space in his overcrowded closet by having a yard sale. No violence ensues, but from then to now humans and animals have not spoken to one another. In Eggenschwiler’s monochrome scenes Coyote and the rest stand on hind legs and (when stripped bare) sport human limbs. Old Woman might be Native American; the only other completely human figure is a pale-skinned girl.

Though usually cast as the trickster, Coyote is more victim than victimizer, making this a nice complement to other Coyote tales. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55498-833-4

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Gleefully providing ammunition for snarky readers eager to second-guess misguided beliefs and commands of grown-ups, Rondina dishes up the straight poop on dozens of topics from the cleanliness of a dog’s mouth and the relationship (none) between French fries and acne to whether an earwig could really crawl into your ear and eat your brains. Since she cites no readily checkable sources—support for assertions comes in the form of quotations from experts in various fields, but there is no bibliography—it’s hard to tell how accurate some of her claims are—it would be nice to have a citation to the JAMA studies that debunk the sugar-hyperactivity connection, for instance—and too often she provides only an unsatisfying “You Decide” instead of a clear “True” or “False.” Still, it all makes painless reading equally suitable for casual dipping or reading straight through, and Sylvester’s pen-and-ink spot art adds further light notes to every page. An extensive closing catalog of familiar “Parentisms”—“I’m not running a taxi service,” “Because I said so, that’s why,” etc.—adds a chuckle-inducing lagniappe. (Informational ephemera. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-55453-454-8

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2010

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