MELTDOWN!

THE NUCLEAR DISASTER IN JAPAN AND OUR ENERGY FUTURE

Regardless of tone, this clear and wide-ranging introduction to essential energy issues has much to offer.

A physicist examines the latest nuclear disaster and its ramifications for the world’s energy future.

On March 11, 2011, at 2:46 p.m., the biggest earthquake in Japan’s history hit the Tohoku region, northeast of Tokyo. A wall of water as high as 128 feet and 110 miles wide surged onto the closest land, damaging or destroying more than 125,000 buildings. Thirty thousand people were killed, injured or missing, and more bad news was to come: Three nuclear reactors were about to undergo meltdowns. Using the disaster as a case study to examine how earthquakes, tsunamis and nuclear reactors work, Bortz offers a clearly written volume, nicely embellished with photographs, maps and diagrams. All lead into the key question: “Why would any government take the risk of using nuclear power?” In a straightforward, dispassionate tone, he proceeds to answer his own question and lay out the potential of other energy options—hydroelectric, wind, geothermal and solar. Given the catastrophe that spawned this volume, the discussion is curiously non-alarmist, telling young readers that future energy decisions are theirs to make and that wise choices rooted in solid information will be crucial.

Regardless of tone, this clear and wide-ranging introduction to essential energy issues has much to offer. (glossary, source notes, bibliography, further reading, websites, index, author’s note) (Nonfiction. 11-18)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7613-8660-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

BILL NYE'S GREAT BIG WORLD OF SCIENCE

Wordplay and wry wit put extra fun into a trove of fundamental knowledge.

With an amped-up sense of wonder, the Science Guy surveys the natural universe.

Starting from first principles like the scientific method, Nye and his co-author marvel at the “Amazing Machine” that is the human body then go on to talk up animals, plants, evolution, physics and chemistry, the quantum realm, geophysics, and climate change. They next venture out into the solar system and beyond. Along with tallying select aspects and discoveries in each chapter, the authors gather up “Massively Important” central concepts, send shoutouts to underrecognized women scientists like oceanographer Marie Tharp, and slip in directions for homespun experiments and demonstrations. They also challenge readers to ponder still-unsolved scientific posers and intersperse rousing quotes from working scientists about how exciting and wide open their respective fields are. If a few of those fields, like the fungal kingdom, get short shrift (one spare paragraph notwithstanding), readers are urged often enough to go look things up for themselves to kindle a compensatory habit. Aside from posed photos of Nye and a few more of children (mostly presenting as White) doing science-y things, the full-color graphic and photographic images not only reflect the overall “get this!” tone but consistently enrich the flow of facts and reflections. “Our universe is a strange and surprising place,” Nye writes. “Stay curious.” Words to live by.

Wordplay and wry wit put extra fun into a trove of fundamental knowledge. (contributors, art credits, selected bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4676-5

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Aug. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

BLIZZARD!

THE STORM THAT CHANGED AMERICA

In the same format as his Newbery Honor title The Great Fire (1995), Murphy brings the blizzard of 1888 to life. He shows how military weather-monitoring practices, housing and employment conditions, and politics regarding waste management, transportation monopolies, and utilities regulation, all contributed to—and were subsequently affected by—the disaster. He does so through an appealing narrative, making use of first-hand accounts whose sources he describes in his notes at the end (though, disappointingly he cites nothing directly in the text). The wealth of quotable material made available through the letters of members of “the Society of Blizzard Men and Blizzard Ladies” and other sources help to make the story vivid. Many drawings and photographs (some of the blizzard, but most of related scenes) illustrate the text. These large reproductions are all in a sepia-tone that matches the color of the typeface—an effect that feels over-the-top, but doesn’t detract significantly from the power of the story. Murphy’s ability to pull in details that lend context allows him to tell this story of a place in time through the lens of a single, dramatic episode that will engage readers. This is skillfully done: humorous, jaw-dropping, thought-provoking, and chilling. (index) (Nonfiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-590-67309-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2000

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