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

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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It’s nothing new in territory or angle, but it’s still a serviceable survey with reasonably durable moving parts.

THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF PLANET EARTH

Flaps, pull tabs, and pop-ups large and small enhance views of our planet’s inside, outside, atmosphere, biosphere, and geophysics.

It’s a hefty, high-speed tour through Earth’s features, climates, and natural resources, with compressed surveys of special topics on multileveled flaps and a spread on the history of life that is extended by a double-foldout wing. But even when teeming with small images of land forms, wildlife, or diverse groups of children and adults, Balicevic’s bright cartoon illustrations look relatively uncrowded. Although the quality of the paper engineering is uneven, the special effects add dramatic set pieces: Readers need to hold in place a humongous column of cumulonimbus clouds for it to reach its full extension; a volcano erupts in a gratifyingly large scale; and, on the plate-tectonics spread, a pull tab gives readers the opportunity to run the Indian Plate into the Eurasian one and see the Himalayas bulge up. A final spread showing resources, mostly renewable ones, being tapped ends with an appeal to protect “our only home.” All in all, it’s a likely alternative to Dougal Jerram’s Utterly Amazing Earth, illustrated by Dan Crisp and Molly Lattin (2017), being broader in scope and a bit more generous in its level of detail.

It’s nothing new in territory or angle, but it’s still a serviceable survey with reasonably durable moving parts. (Informational novelty. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 979-1-02760-562-0

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 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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