A well-stirred slurry of facts and fun for strong-stomached “poop sleuths.”



A biologist digests her own observations and those of other researchers studying poop’s properties, products, and potential.

“Once I put my poo goggles on,” the author writes, “I found fecal fun everywhere.” Picking up more or less where her Something Rotten: A Fresh Look at Roadkill (2018) left off, Montgomery continues to convey her devotion to decomposition with breezy visits to labs and landfills, conversations with scat specialists, and thoroughly detailed up-close and personal notes on encounters with dead animals, guts, and writhing intestinal fauna. Piling evocative chapter heads like “Hunk of Tongue” and “Stool to Fuel” atop essays redolent with puns and double-entendres, she adds unusual nuggets of insight to her disquisitions on fertilizers and fecal transplants: the significant role dinosaurs and other prehistoric “megapoopers” played in seed dispersal, hints that certain parasitic worms may be as good for us as certain species of intestinal bacteria, and the notion that artificially preserving endangered species isn’t automatically a good thing. Along with occasional diversions to, for instance, point out the environmental impact of palm oil’s near ubiquity in our food and consumer goods, she further indulges her wide range of interests in footnotes on nearly every page and a closing resource list bulging with analytical commentary. Neither the scanty assortment of photos nor Gottlieb’s decorative pen-and-ink vignettes include human figures.

A well-stirred slurry of facts and fun for strong-stomached “poop sleuths.” (index, activities, synonym chart, annotated bibliography) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0347-3

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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A stimulating plunge for casual browsers and serious students alike.



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.



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 Press

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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