A good introduction to the science of scent certain to hook reluctant scientists (and readers) with its yuck factor.

READ REVIEW

STINKY SCIENCE

WHY THE SMELLIEST SMELLS SMELL SO SMELLY

More than you ever wanted to know about why stuff stinks.

Everybody smells—both transitively with their noses and intransitively due to the bacteria on their bodies. But what does the sense of smell do for us? If we smell smoke, as from a burning building, we get nervous. That keeps us safe. The same is true about noticing the foul odor of rotting meat. The meat itself doesn’t give off the odor—it’s the organisms living off the meat that make it smell unappetizing (except to vultures and other carrion eaters). Six million receptors on the olfactory epithelium in the human nose detect scent molecules in the air and transmit that information to the brain. Canadian science writer Kay goes on to explain the connection between scent and memory and how we know what outer space smells like (“a combination of schoolbus exhaust and incinerated hamburger,” according to astronauts). He explains the various reasons animals may benefit from smelling awful (and which ones smell the worst: the green wood hoopoe and the polecat). He tells readers why Limburger cheese smells like feet (they share the same microbe) and which animals are super sniffers (those vultures mentioned earlier can smell carrion from a great distance, and moles smell “in stereo”). All the cheeky stinky facts are accompanied by Shiell’s bright, cheerily gross cartoon illustrations, which depict humans of diverse races being offended and offending others.

A good introduction to the science of scent certain to hook reluctant scientists (and readers) with its yuck factor. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77138-382-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Science at its best: informative and gross.

DO NOT LICK THIS BOOK

Why not? Because “IT’S FULL OF GERMS.”

Of course, Ben-Barak rightly notes, so is everything else—from your socks to the top of Mount Everest. Just to demonstrate, he invites readers to undertake an exploratory adventure (only partly imaginary): First touch a certain seemingly blank spot on the page to pick up a microbe named Min, then in turn touch teeth, shirt, and navel to pick up Rae, Dennis, and Jake. In the process, readers watch crews of other microbes digging cavities (“Hey kid, brush your teeth less”), spreading “lovely filth,” and chowing down on huge rafts of dead skin. For the illustrations, Frost places dialogue balloons and small googly-eyed cartoon blobs of diverse shape and color onto Rundgren’s photographs, taken using a scanning electron microscope, of the fantastically rugged surfaces of seemingly smooth paper, a tooth, textile fibers, and the jumbled crevasses in a belly button. The tour concludes with more formal introductions and profiles for Min and the others: E. coli, Streptococcus, Aspergillus niger, and Corynebacteria. “Where will you take Min tomorrow?” the author asks teasingly. Maybe the nearest bar of soap.

Science at its best: informative and gross. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17536-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders.

THE BIG BOOK OF THE BLUE

Denizens of the deep crowd oversized pages in this populous gallery of ocean life.

The finny and tentacled sea creatures drifting or arrowing through Zommer’s teeming watercolor seascapes are generally recognizable, and they are livened rather than distorted by the artist’s tendency to place human eyes on the same side of many faces, Picasso-like. Headers such as “Ink-teresting” or “In for the krill” likewise add a playful tone to the pithy comments on anatomical features or behavioral quirks that accompany the figures (which include, though rarely, a white human diver). The topical spreads begin with an overview of ocean families (“Some are hairy, some have scales, some have fins and some are boneless and brainless!”), go on to introduce select animals in no particular order from sea horses and dragonets to penguins and pufferfish, then close with cautionary remarks on chemical pollution and floating plastic. The author invites readers as they go to find both answers to such questions as “Why does a crab run sideways?” and also a small sardine hidden in some, but not all, of the pictures. For the latter he provides a visual key at the end, followed by a basic glossary.

A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders. (index) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-500-65119-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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