A brave but labored effort, too crude and piecemeal to do more than hint at this new tech’s potential.

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VIRTUAL REALITY

An introduction to VR, with a cardboard viewer and five downloadable environments to sample.

Copious safety precautions and instructions—first for downloading the requisite smartphone app, then for assembling and using the viewer (incorporating said smartphone)—lead off this title. Following this, basic explanations of how virtual worlds are designed and rendered are interspersed with pages constructed around scannable links to 3-D views of dinosaurs, gladiators, volcanoes, pond life, and the International Space Station. In between these pages is further information on the technology behind VR and its uses. Users navigate the virtual worlds by physically turning their heads (or their whole bodies) and “pointing” their viewers at dots strewn about the vistas. Pausing at these marked points in each environment opens up alternate views or triggers a few lines of streaming informational snippets, read by an impersonal narrator; these reinforce without duplicating text on the equivalent printed pages but sometimes go off on tangents—with multiple mentions of toilets and waste on the ISS, for instance, and T. Rex coprolites (or, as the narrator mispronounces it, “corprolites”). The virtual worlds are modeled with decent realism but are so grainy that exploring them for more than a few minutes at a time (the precautions recommend 15, but even that may be pushing it) courts eyestrain. With but rare exceptions the human children and researchers in the photos are white.

A brave but labored effort, too crude and piecemeal to do more than hint at this new tech’s potential. (stickers, index) (Informational novelty. 10-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4654-6548-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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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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