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SMALL MATTERS

THE HIDDEN POWER OF THE UNSEEN

A solid invitation to find out more.

Sharks can swim speedily and birds can fly because of physical structures too minuscule to see.

Electron-microscope images accompany simple text observations about the importance of unseen, tiny attributes in the physiology of 11 animals: sea snail, shark, blue morpho butterfly, bird, snake, water strider, honeybee, cat, cicada, toucan, and gecko. (Specific species aren’t identified for the shark, bird, or snake.) Aspects of strength (tensile and hardness), speed, color, agility, and cleanliness and protection are attributed to fibers and bumps that are invisible to the eye but amazing at very high levels of magnification. Close-up, lower-magnification photos of each animal are also included. A photo of what is presumably a gecko’s foot, highly magnified, is one of the best, though it appears on an introductory page and not with the nanoscale microscopic image of the gecko’s bristly toes. The backmatter yields some good information and adds factual substance to this visual sampling of microscopic discoveries in biology—a paragraph of explanation for each creature expands on the earlier text; “nanoscale” is defined with an accompanying graph; and the scanning electron microscope is briefly described. Photos are attributed to stock libraries. The “wow” factor in seeing variations in animal adaptations revealed through electron microscopy is compelling.

A solid invitation to find out more. (Nonfiction. 4-9)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-7814-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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VOLCANOES

Erupt into applause for this picture book of the first magma-tude.

A deceptively simple, visually appealing, comprehensive explanation of volcanoes.

Gibbons packs an impressive number of facts into this browsable nonfiction picture book. The text begins with the awe of a volcanic eruption: “The ground begins to rumble…ash, hot lava and rock, and gases shoot up into the air.” Diagrams of the Earth’s structural layers—inner and outer core, mantle, and crust—undergird a discussion about why volcanoes occur. Simple maps of the Earth’s seven major tectonic plates show where volcanoes are likeliest to develop. Other spreads with bright, clearly labeled illustrations cover intriguing subtopics: four types of volcanoes and how they erupt; underwater volcanoes; well-known volcanoes and historic volcanic eruptions around the world; how to be safe in the vicinity of a volcano; and the work of scientists studying volcanoes and helping to predict eruptions. A page of eight facts about volcanoes wraps things up. The straightforward, concise prose will be easy for young readers to follow. As always, Gibbons manages to present a great deal of information in a compact form.

Erupt into applause for this picture book of the first magma-tude. (Nonfiction picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4569-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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OVER AND UNDER THE WAVES

From the Over and Under series

More thoughtful, sometimes exhilarating encounters with nature.

In a new entry in the Over and Under series, a paddleboarder glimpses humpback whales leaping, floats over a populous kelp forest, and explores life on a beach and in a tide pool.

In this tale inspired by Messner’s experiences in Monterey Bay in California, a young tan-skinned narrator, along with their light-skinned mom and tan-skinned dad, observes in quiet, lyrical language sights and sounds above and below the sea’s serene surface. Switching perspectives and angles of view and often leaving the family’s red paddleboards just tiny dots bobbing on distant swells, Neal’s broad seascapes depict in precise detail bat stars and anchovies, kelp bass, and sea otters going about their business amid rocky formations and the swaying fronds of kelp…and, further out, graceful moon jellies and—thrillingly—massive whales in open waters beneath gliding pelicans and other shorebirds. After returning to the beach at day’s end to search for shells and to spot anemones and decorator crabs, the child ends with nighttime dreams of stars in the sky meeting stars in the sea. Appended nature notes on kelp and 21 other types of sealife fill in details about patterns and relationships in this rich ecosystem. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

More thoughtful, sometimes exhilarating encounters with nature. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-79720-347-8

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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