A disorganized grab bag with parts that may be of some value to young stargazers.

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LUNA

THE SCIENCE AND STORIES OF OUR MOON

A picture of our nearest cosmic neighbor, from violent origins to likely demise.

Aguilar, a veteran science writer and illustrator, opens with a recap of (theorized) stages in the moon’s evolution over the past 4.5 billion years. Then, in no particular order, he speeds through a jumble of lunar topics including tides and phases, the Great Moon Hoax of 1835, werewolves, moon-based festivals, and visits both fantastic and real. In a more practical vein, at least for budding sky watchers, he follows a simplified map of the moon’s near side with closer looks at 17 craters and other features easily visible through small telescopes or binoculars before closing, after a scenario of the moon’s probable end, with instructions for creating a plaster or papier-mâché moonscape and for drawing (not photographing!) lunar features observed through a lens. All of this is presented against a seamless series of photos and realistic paintings, sometimes a mix of the two. The author’s ethnography in his discussion of myths is at best superficial, and his survey of earthly history ends with the Apollo program, but his astronomy-based descriptions and explanations are clear and well-founded.

A disorganized grab bag with parts that may be of some value to young stargazers. (websites, index) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3322-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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African-American Geo cuts a suitably chiseled figure in the pictures, but he doesn’t get enough to do and so is really no...

THE INCREDIBLE PLATE TECTONICS COMIC

From the Adventures of Geo series , Vol. 1

Superhero Geo introduces readers to plate tectonics.

Reviewing information on his way to school for a big geology test, young George transforms himself into “Geo,” a uniformed superhero with a rocket-propelled skateboard and a robotic canine sidekick. In his imaginary adventure, he leaps over sidewalk “faults,” swerves away from “tsunamis” splashed up by a passing truck and saves an elderly lady from falling into an open manhole “volcano.” Meanwhile, supported by visual aids provided by inserted graphics and maps, Geo goes over the convergent, divergent and transform movements of tectonic plates, subduction, magnetic “stripes” paralleling oceanic ridges and a host of other need-to-know facts and terms. All of this is illustrated in big, brightly colored sequential panels of cartoon art hung about with heavy blocks of explication. After the exam comes back with, natch, a perfect score (“I guess all that studying paid off”), Lee, a geophysicist, abandons the story for a final 10 pages of recap and further detail on plate tectonics’ causes, effects and measurement—closing with a description of what geologists do.

African-American Geo cuts a suitably chiseled figure in the pictures, but he doesn’t get enough to do and so is really no more than a mouthpiece—perhaps there will be more of a plot in his next adventure. (online projects, index) (Graphic nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59327-549-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: No Starch Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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Rosy, bland hero worship.

NEIL ARMSTRONG

FIRST MAN ON THE MOON

From the Trailblazers series

A panegyric to the “reluctant hero” who first stepped onto the moon’s surface.

Woolf digs into Armstrong’s life from first airplane ride at the age of 5 to his death in 2012, taking some glances behind the scenes but with a focus on heroic exploits during the Korean War, as a test pilot, and in space. The famous line is rendered “That’s one small step for [a] man,” with a disclaimer, but overall the author tells a sketchy tale with significant details missing—such as any mention of the racist and sexist aspects of this country’s early space program. Even the return flight of Apollo 11 is covered in just a timeline and one anticlimactic sentence: “After an uneventful ride back to Earth, the astronauts splashed down southwest of Hawaii.” Ho-hum. All or most of the black-and-white illustrations are (poorly) redrawn from photographs; despite inserted wisecracks and actual quotes, they are so lifeless that even a version of the renowned Earthrise has a drab, distant look. A scant handful of further resources and a space-exploration timeline that spans only 1973 to 2015 follow a closing flurry of tributes to Armstrong’s achievements and character. Armstrong is definitely a historical figure worth knowing…but the recent spate of more-nuanced and -dramatic accounts of the space program spoil readers for choice, and this doesn’t stand out as a first or even second one.

Rosy, bland hero worship. (glossary, index) (Biography. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-593-12401-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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