An accessible and entertaining introduction to a basic science tool.

FIELD NOTEBOOKS

HOW SCIENTISTS RECORD AND WRITE ABOUT OBSERVATIONS

Packed with examples, this children’s book explains how scientists record observations in field journals.

Children in science class who are asked to write down observations in a notebook or journal may wonder how this actually works for professional scientists. This introduction to the subject demystifies the process, beginning by defining the central concepts. Field, for example, means scientists “are not sitting in an office or a laboratory. Instead, they are in a field, a meadow, a cave, or wherever they need to be to make their observations in nature.” Pattison explains the kind of information recorded, such as lists, daily events, narratives, maps, descriptions, and measurements, along with images clarified through captions, labels, or keys providing important facts. The book then turns to 13 scientists from fields including entomology, botany, ornithology, geology, and taxidermy. Each entry includes a photographic portrait and a short biography listing notable accomplishments and experiences and a description of methods, illustrated with relevant images, such as facsimiles of field notes and examples of many kinds of observations. Because the volume focuses on scientists born in the 19th or early 20th centuries, many of the entries are handwritten or drawn, showing that students don’t need fancy equipment to perform fieldwork. In her latest science-focused book for children, the author provides clear, understandable, but not oversimplified explanations in an attractively presented format. The notebook entries make for compelling study, such as entomologist Margaret S. Collins’ observations of a territorial showdown between termite colonies: “She drew a map showing the opening positions, and then new maps as the battle continued,” recording developments over the 40-minute conflict. A final section, “Start Your Own Field Book,” supplies useful tips. But it’s unfortunate that only three female scientists are included—not for lack of historical examples.

An accessible and entertaining introduction to a basic science tool.

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62-944191-7

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Mims House

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

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 14, 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 FACTS

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. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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