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. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care.


In 1977, the oil carrier Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into a formerly pristine Alaskan ocean inlet, killing millions of birds, animals, and fish. Despite a cleanup, crude oil is still there.

The Winters foretold the destructive powers of the atomic bomb allusively in The Secret Project (2017), leaving the actuality to the backmatter. They make no such accommodations to young audiences in this disturbing book. From the dark front cover, on which oily blobs conceal a seabird, to the rescuer’s sad face on the back, the mother-son team emphasizes the disaster. A relatively easy-to-read and poetically heightened text introduces the situation. Oil is pumped from the Earth “all day long, all night long, / day after day, year after year” in “what had been unspoiled land, home to Native people // and thousands of caribou.” The scale of extraction is huge: There’s “a giant pipeline” leading to “enormous ships.” Then, crash. Rivers of oil gush out over three full-bleed wordless pages. Subsequent scenes show rocks, seabirds, and sea otters covered with oil. Finally, 30 years later, animals have returned to a cheerful scene. “But if you lift a rock… // oil / seeps / up.” For an adult reader, this is heartbreaking. How much more difficult might this be for an animal-loving child?

Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3077-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)



Cusick floats a slick, select gallery of nature’s spitters, nose-pickers, oozers, and slimers—most but not all nonhuman—atop nourishing globs of scientific information.

Title notwithstanding, the book is limited just to mucus and saliva. Following introductory looks at the major components of each, Cusick describes their often similar uses in nature—in swallowing or expelling foreign matter, fighting disease, predation and defense, camouflage, travel, communication (“Aren’t you glad humans use words to communicate?”), home construction, nutrition, and more. All of this is presented in easily digestible observations placed among, and often referring to, color photos of slime-covered goby fish, a giraffe with its tongue up its nose, various drooling animals, including a white infant, and like photogenic subjects. Two simple experiments cater to hands-on types, but any readers who take delight in sentences like “Some fungus beetles eat snail slime mucus” come away both stimulated and informed.

What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63322-115-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Moondance/Quarto

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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