A guaranteed hit with science lovers and a best bet for convincing skeptics that science is indeed a grand and exciting...

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OLDER THAN DIRT

A WILD BUT TRUE HISTORY OF EARTH

A groundhog and her worm sidekick offer a concise tour of the Earth’s history from the Big Bang to climate change with a glimpse of the bleak, sun-dried future to come—all lightened by frequent humorous asides.

Born of the partnership between geology professor Perfit (Univ. of Florida) and prolific graphic novelist Brown, this highly engaging overview briefly introduces a broad range of scientific topics in a vivid and accessible way, for example describing magma as “rock that is so hot that it’s gooey, like chocolate fudge.” Clear illustrations effectively complement the text, rendering the array of subjects memorable and easy to grasp: a cross section of an apple indicates the relative thinness of the Earth’s basalt crust, while a plaid blanket hovering above the planet illustrates the effect on temperatures of excessive carbon dioxide. The groundhog is utterly endearing, and the worm is remarkably expressive considering the absence of limbs and most facial features. Readers will be entertained, informed, and inspired to learn more about whatever piques their curiosity, whether it is uranium, continental drift, glaciers, or one of the featured scientists, such as Marie Tharp. A lengthy bibliography and detailed source notes are an added bonus.

A guaranteed hit with science lovers and a best bet for convincing skeptics that science is indeed a grand and exciting adventure. (Graphic nonfiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-80503-3

Page Count: 112

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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Exhilarating—as well as hilarious, enraging, or both at once depending on the reader.

ASTRONAUTS

WOMEN ON THE FINAL FRONTIER

How women got mad, busy, and finally, reluctantly, accepted into NASA’s corps of astronauts.

Recast by the creators of Primates (2013) from NASA oral-history interviews with ex-astronaut Mary Cleave and other eyewitnesses, this likewise lightly fictionalized memoir takes its narrator from childhood interests in science and piloting aircraft to two space shuttle missions and then on to later educational and administrative roles. The core of the tale is a frank and funny account of how women shouldered their way into NASA’s masculine culture and as astronaut trainees broke it down by demonstrating that they too had both the competencies and the toughness that added up to the right stuff. Highlighted by a vivid series of scenes showing Cleave with a monkey on her chest, then a chimpanzee, an orangutan, a gorilla, and finally a larger gorilla to symbolize the G-forces of liftoff, Wicks offers cleanly drawn depictions of technical gear, actual training exercises, eye-rolling encounters with sexist reporters and clueless NASA engineers, iconic figures (such as a group portrait of the watershed astronaut class of 1978: “Twenty-six white guys and nine…well…people who were not. Pretty diverse for NASA”), and astronauts at work on the ground and in space. They capture both the heady thrill of space travel and the achievements of those who led the way there.

Exhilarating—as well as hilarious, enraging, or both at once depending on the reader. (afterword, print and web resources) (Informational graphic novel. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62672-877-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A change of pace from the typical blood-and-guts approach to the topic, populous enough to sate even the most rabid...

DINOSAUR EMPIRE!

JOURNEY THROUGH THE MESOZOIC ERA

From the Earth Before Us series , Vol. 1

A quick trip through the Mesozoic Era with a paleontologist is all young Ronnie needs to become a dino-maniac.

So desperate is Ronnie to better a dinosaur exam’s failing grade that she’s willing to follow her odd but scholarly neighbor Miss Lernin into a curbside recycling bin—which, thanks to “Science Magic,” leaves the two in the late Triassic. Between meeting plateosaurs on that stop and a cozy nuzzle with a T. rex in the late Cretaceous, Ronnie gets an earful about dinosaur anatomy, convergent evolution, types of prehistoric life, protofeathers and other recent discoveries, and (as Miss Lernin puts it) “the exciting world of…phylogenetic trees!!” But mostly what she gets are dinosaurs. The graphic panels teem with (labeled) prehistoric life including, along with dozens of dinos, many early mammals and other contemporaries. Howard depicts nearly all of this fauna with snub noses and such friendly expressions that in no time (so to speak) Ronnie is exclaiming “Oh my gosh…Jurassic crocodylomorphs were so cute!” Indeed, her white tutor agrees, but also cool, dangerous, and majestic. Ronnie, who is depicted as a black girl, returns to the present to earn a perfect score on a retaken test and go on to spread the dino-word to her diverse classmates. Though the lack of source or resource lists is disappointing, closing graphic recaps of major prehistoric creatures and, yes, a phylogenetic tree provide some review.

A change of pace from the typical blood-and-guts approach to the topic, populous enough to sate even the most rabid dinophiles. (glossary) (Graphic informational fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2306-3

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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