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Just the ticket for readers addicted to quick, rapidly fading hits of information.

For short attention spans, a flashy gathering of photographs, graphic images, and assorted facts about various high-interest topics.

The subtitular claim to universality aims decidedly high as, in six broadly thematic chapters, Green offers what amounts to an arbitrary selection of short lists: highest mountains, biggest volcanoes, animals who have gone into space, the main components (with percentages) of the human body. Alongside the lists are graphically organized information on: bovine digestion, meerkats, Usain Bolt, how whistles are manufactured, computerese from “bit” to “yottabyte,” and like gallimaufry. All of these are embedded in such a broad range of graphic presentations (squared-off galleries, sinuous lines of time or distance, charts with infographic elements, arrangements of photos or silhouettes, maps, cutaway views, diagrams with directional arrows, and more) that the actual content seems almost incidental. (Instances of text printed white-on-yellow or some other semilegible combination do nothing to counter this notion.) Readers who actually want to know what makes Annapurna I “the world’s deadliest mountain” or what, if anything, the entire page of alternating tiny pink and blue human figures represents can go beg, and the author provides neither sources nor resources. Casual browsers will find this a rich source of easy wows, though.

Just the ticket for readers addicted to quick, rapidly fading hits of information. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 8-13)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-21557-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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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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Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both.

Flash, Batman, and other characters from the DC Comics universe tackle supervillains and STEM-related topics and sometimes, both.

Credited to 20 writers and illustrators in various combinations, the 10 episodes invite readers to tag along as Mera and Aquaman visit oceanic zones from epipelagic to hadalpelagic; Supergirl helps a young scholar pick a science-project topic by taking her on a tour of the solar system; and Swamp Thing lends Poison Ivy a hand to describe how DNA works (later joining Swamp Kid to scuttle a climate-altering scheme by Arcane). In other episodes, various costumed creations explain the ins and outs of diverse large- and small-scale phenomena, including electricity, atomic structure, forensic techniques, 3-D printing, and the lactate threshold. Presumably on the supposition that the characters will be more familiar to readers than the science, the minilectures tend to start from simple basics, but the figures are mostly both redrawn to look more childlike than in the comics and identified only in passing. Drawing styles and page designs differ from chapter to chapter but not enough to interrupt overall visual unity and flow—and the cast is sufficiently diverse to include roles for superheroes (and villains) of color like Cyborg, Kid Flash, and the Latina Green Lantern, Jessica Cruz. Appended lists of websites and science-based YouTube channels, plus instructions for homespun activities related to each episode, point inspired STEM-winders toward further discoveries.

Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both. (Graphic nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77950-382-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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