A reassuring picture of ever more stout defenses ranged against a scary, invisible world.

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PLAGUES

THE MICROSCOPIC BATTLEFIELD

From the Science Comics series

Medicine joins our immune systems in squaring off against microbial invaders.

Using what amounts to an anatomical holodeck, white-coated, olive-skinned Elena squires two dim-bulb bacilli, Bubonic Plague and Yellow Fever, through a thymus gland and other tissues while lecturing on the causes and treatments of infectious diseases and trying to enlist them as vaccines in the fight against their own deadly kind. Along the way readers come face to face—literally, as all the cells in the cartoon panels are anthropomorphic—with a large cast of common disease bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa on one side and on the other, six kinds of tough-guy leukocytes (“Git yer flu antibodies ready, y’all!”) the body produces in defense. In laying out a general history of plagues and medical advances, accompanied sometimes by thrillingly gruesome illustrations, Koch covers highlights and lows, such as how smallpox was used as a bioweapon in the French and Indian War, but avoids mention of the various means of transmission in the spread of HIV and leaves other STDs out of the picture entirely. Still, she injects heady doses of both history and histology into the tour, lightens the load with humor (of a sort: “Ha! Jenner put a lot of pus in that kid!”), and hints at promising new directions in medical research.

A reassuring picture of ever more stout defenses ranged against a scary, invisible world. (glossary, timeline, endnotes, bibliography) (Graphic nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-753-3

Page Count: 130

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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A stimulating plunge for casual browsers and serious students alike.

ULTIMATE OCEANPEDIA

THE MOST COMPLETE OCEAN REFERENCE EVER

A compendium of all things oceanic, from surface to depths, covering biology, geology, coasts, climatic phenomena, and human use and abuse.

Considering the size of the general topic, the coverage isn’t as shallow as it might be. Hundreds of crisply professional nature photos and big, easy-to-follow charts and diagrams anchor waves of densely packed but often breezy commentary (“Many parrotfish species also make their own sleeping bags at night—out of mucus!”) that Wilsdon pours in beneath such headers as “It’s a Shore Thing” and “Belize It or Not!” Overviews of each ocean, of plate tectonics, the action and effects of ocean currents, worldwide climate change, and physical features from islands to abyssal plains sail by in succession, but marine biology takes pride of place with page after page of photogenic sea life from tiny krill on up to whales and polar bears. The author profiles a marine ecologist and interviews an oceanographer to cap chapters on modern research, exploration, and industries, then closes with generous lists of sites to visit physically or virtually.

A stimulating plunge for casual browsers and serious students alike. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4263-2550-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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Personal notes give this stirring tribute to speed, power, and technological prowess an unusually intimate air.

CROSSING ON TIME

STEAM ENGINES, FAST SHIPS, AND A JOURNEY TO THE NEW WORLD

Childhood memories, as well as loads of historical and archival research, anchor a history of ocean liners from the invention of steam pumps to the magnificent SS United States.

Linked by recollections of his own family’s 1957 journey from the U.K. to New York aboard the United States, Macaulay traces the development of steam-powered ships from a small 1783 paddle-driven experiment to the 990-foot monster that still holds the record for the fastest Atlantic crossing by a ship of its type. Ignoring the Titanic-like tragedies, he focuses on design and engineering—mixing profile portraits of dozens of increasingly long, sleek hulls with lovingly detailed cutaway views of boilers, turbines, and power trains, structural elements being assembled (sometimes with the help of a giant authorial hand reaching down from the skies), and diagrams of decks and internal workings. All of this is accompanied by sure, lucid explanations and culminates in a humongous inside view of the United States on a multiple gatefold, with very nearly every room and cupboard labeled. Having filled in the historical highlights, the author turns to his own story with an account of the five-day voyage and his first impressions of this country that are made more vivid by reconstructed scenes and family photos. A waiter in one of the former is the only person of color in clear view, but human figures of any sort are rare throughout.

Personal notes give this stirring tribute to speed, power, and technological prowess an unusually intimate air. (timeline, further reading) (Nonfiction/memoir. 11-14)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59643-477-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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