EVOLUTION

HOW WE AND ALL LIVING THINGS CAME TO BE

A quick once-over of this hot-button topic, though strongly argued if superficial and oddly illustrated. Pointedly dismissing Intelligent Design and not even bothering to “teach the controversy,” Loxton explains in nontechnical language the current understanding of how species evolve through Natural Selection—which he rightly defines as “survival of the adequate.” After showing how applecart-upsetting evidence of extinct animals and the geologic scale of time led to “Darwin’s Big Idea,” he describes the processes of selection in answers to a series of skeptically posed questions like, “How could evolution produce something as complicated as my eyes?” However, not only does he fail to provide any source notes or links to further resources, he leaves readers largely in the dark about evolution’s genetic mechanism. Furthermore, the illustrations are a patchwork jumble of color photos, sketchy diagrams, awkwardly drawn cartoon figures and uncommonly photorealistic portraits of prehistoric creatures. Better-founded introductions like Robert Winston’s Evolution Revolution: From Darwin to DNA (2009) or Kristan Lawson’s Darwin and Evolution for Kids: His Life and Ideas with 21 Activities (2003) will likely edge out this one in the struggle to survive. (Nonfiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-55453-430-2

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2010

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WEATHER

Remarking that ``nothing about the weather is very simple,'' Simon goes on to describe how the sun, atmosphere, earth's rotation, ground cover, altitude, pollution, and other factors influence it; briefly, he also tells how weather balloons gather information. Even for this outstanding author, it's a tough, complex topic, and he's not entirely successful in simplifying it; moreover, the import of the striking uncaptioned color photos here isn't always clear. One passage—``Cumulus clouds sometimes build up into towering masses called cumulus congestus, or swelling cumulus, which may turn into cumulonimbus clouds''—is superimposed on a blue-gray, cloud-covered landscape. But which kind of clouds are these? Another photo, in blue-black and white, shows what might be precipitation in the upper atmosphere, or rain falling on a darkened landscape, or...? Generally competent and certainly attractive, but not Simon's best. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-688-10546-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1993

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BRIAN'S RETURN

Paulsen brings the story he began in Hatchet (1987) and continued in the alternate sequels The River (1991) and Brian’s Winter (1996) around to a sometimes-mystical close. Surviving the media coverage and the unwanted attention of other high school students has become more onerous to Brian than his experiences in the wild; realizing that the wilderness has become larger within him than the need to be with people, Brian methodically gathers survival equipment—listed in detail—then leaves his old life behind. It takes some time, plus a brutal fight and sessions with a savvy counselor, before Brian reaches that realization, but once out under the trees, it’s obvious that his attachment to the wild is a permanent one. Becoming ever more attuned to the natural wonders around him, he travels over a succession of lakes and streams, pausing to make camp, howl with a wolf, read Shakespeare to a pair of attentive otters and, once, to share a meal with an old man who talks about animal guides and leaves a medicine bundle for him. Readers hoping for the high adventure of the previous books may be disappointed, as Brian is now so skilled that a tipped canoe or a wild storm are only inconveniences, and even bears more hazard than threat; still, Paulsen bases many of his protagonist’s experiences on his own, and the wilderness through which Brian moves is vividly observed. Afterword. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-385-32500-2

Page Count: 116

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1998

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