A tasty, digestible buffet of cosmic phenomena for readers with their eyes on the skies.




Answers to big questions, from the titular one (answer: “Everything!”) to what happens to pee in space (“it would boil, then freeze”).

The co-authors—one an astrophysicist, the other author of Geometry Is as Easy as Pie (2020)—offer chatty but cogent responses to a free-floating set of astro-queries. Along with frequent reminders that outer space is unimaginably enormous, readers will get relatively detailed lowdowns on diverse topics including black holes in general (“You’d only see this blindingly bright, white light in the fraction of a second before you were vaporized”), the nature of mass, the possibility that “rain” on planets like Jupiter is made of diamonds, space trash, Cepheid variables, the recordings on the Voyager probes, and the notion of multiple universes: “Crazy, right? But kind of cool too.” Highlighted by images of galaxies colliding in a “beautiful cosmic trainwreck” and 2019’s breakthrough photograph of a supermassive black hole, an array of well-placed space photos and digital renditions add small but evocative notes of visual wonder that complement the text’s abundant enthusiasm. The substantial text is not broken up into chapters, but text-message–shaped callout boxes presenting the questions help walk readers through the narrative, with logical related questions presented in yellow boxes. There is no backmatter beyond image credits.

A tasty, digestible buffet of cosmic phenomena for readers with their eyes on the skies. (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: June 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-943431-54-0

Page Count: 90

Publisher: Tumblehome Learning

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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The photos effectively convey the scope of Harvey’s impact, but while journalistically sound, this informative book doesn’t...



The devastation of 2017’s Hurricane Harvey is explained, from the storm’s origin to its ongoing aftermath, in this photo-heavy book.

In retelling the story of how a storm got so big it caused 82 deaths and billions of dollars in damage along the Texas coast, Minneapolis-based author Felix details the science of hurricanes for those unfamiliar and unpacks why this and a series of other hurricanes made for one of the most damaging weather years on record. Although it’s packed with info-boxes, a glossary, tips for safety during a hurricane and helping survivors afterward, a snapshot of five other historic hurricanes, and well-curated photos, it misses an opportunity to convey some of the emotion and pain victims endured and continue to feel. Instead, much of the text feels like a summation of news reports, an efficient attempt to answer the whys of Hurricane Harvey, with only a few direct quotations. Readers learn about Virgil Smith, a Dickinson, Texas, teen who rescued others from floodwaters with an air mattress, but the information is secondhand. The book does answer, clearly and concisely, questions a kid might have about a hurricane, such as what happens to animals at the zoo in such an emergency and how a tropical storm forms in the first place. A portion of the book’s proceeds are to be donated to the Texas Library Association’s Disaster Relief Fund.

The photos effectively convey the scope of Harvey’s impact, but while journalistically sound, this informative book doesn’t capture the fear and shock those who lived through the hurricane must have felt. (Nonfiction. 9-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2888-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2018

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The cleanup, finger pointing, litigation and economic recovery are still ongoing, but this overview of the Deepwater Horizon disaster offers a short and coherent account of the spill itself, the well’s eventual capping and, in broad strokes, the immediate environmental impact. Noting that the initial explosion occurred the very night of a ceremony commending the crew’s safety record (but not going into the long tally of construction shortcuts that made that ceremony so disingenuous), Landau provides a linear nonjudgmental account of major events between the April 20 eruption and the announcement of a permanent plug on Sep. 19, 2010. Big color photos add views of the platform burning, ships cleaning up oil slicks, oil-soaked wildlife and damaged coastal areas, along with smaller murky pictures of the failed blowout preventer on the ocean floor and the replacement cap. Additional graphics provide clear views of the technology—the rig itself, a cross-section of the blowout preventer and the relief well in relation to the original well—and a map of the Gulf coastline shows the affected areas. Limited, out of date and entirely based on secondary sources as it is, this still presents younger audiences a slightly more complete picture than Mona Chiang’s Oil Spill Disaster (2000). Includes eco-activities, resource lists and a tally of other major spills. (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7613-7485-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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