ORCA RESCUE!

THE TRUE STORY OF AN ORPHANED ORCA NAMED SPRINGER

Orca activist Sandstrom details the 2002 rescue of an orphaned juvenile separated from her northern resident pod in British Columbia.

After she’s sighted in Washington’s Puget Sound, regional experts work at identification. Orcas live in tightly bonded pods; individuals’ unique dorsal fin shapes, saddle patches, and calls are well documented by researchers. A hydrophone records this orca’s call, keying it to the A4 pod. Photos corroborate her identity as Springer, born in 2000. She and her mother had failed to return to Johnstone Strait with their pod in 2001. Springer’s reappearance sets off an extraordinary rescue and pod reunion involving citizen and professional scientists, nonprofits, U.S. and Canadian governmental agencies, and First Nations and Native American tribal members. Sandstrom is key in organizing financial and in-kind support for the complex rescue, helping to build the Orphan Orca Fund, a coalition of seven nonprofits. Combining eyewitness experiences with solid research, her narrative delivers a clear, month-by-month account of Springer’s rescue, imparting an exciting immediacy. Burwash’s appealing illustrations provide valuable detail. Between first sighting and ultimate reunion, Springer is assessed, monitored, weighed, dewormed, and twice transported to holding net pens. Fascinatingly quickly, experts detect A4 pod’s calls—and Springer’s response. Within 24 hours of Springer’s Canadian homecoming, A4 pod arrives, and Springer is released. Sandstrom recounts subsequent reunions—human and cetacean—and the marvelous news of Springer’s two calves. Cogent topical interludes provide historical and scientific background.

Impressive. (maps, matriline, human-made threats, photos, how to help, glossary, bibliography, websites, team participants, author’s note) (Nonfiction. 6-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0117-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 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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Pretty but insubstantial.

THE BIG BOOK OF BIRDS

Zommer surveys various bird species from around the world in this oversized (almost 14 inches tall tall) volume.

While exuberantly presented, the information is not uniformly expressed from bird to bird, which in the best cases will lead readers to seek out additional information and in the worst cases will lead to frustration. For example, on spreads that feature multiple species, the birds are not labeled. This happens again later when the author presents facts about eggs: Readers learn about camouflaged eggs, but the specific eggs are not identified, making further study extremely difficult. Other facts are misleading: A spread on “city birds” informs readers that “peregrine falcons nest on skyscrapers in New York City”—but they also nest in other large cities. In a sexist note, a peahen is identified as “unlucky” because she “has drab brown feathers” instead of flashy ones like the peacock’s. Illustrations are colorful and mostly identifiable but stylized; Zommer depicts his birds with both eyes visible at all times, even when the bird is in profile. The primary audience for the book appears to be British, as some spreads focus on European birds over their North American counterparts, such as the mute swan versus the trumpeter swan and the European robin versus the American robin. The backmatter, a seven-word glossary and an index, doesn’t provide readers with much support.

Pretty but insubstantial. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-500-65151-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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