Mr. Wizard meets Sweet Valley High in a fly-on-the-wall look at some of the future scientists of America.




A year in the lives and experiments of one exceptional high school science class.

Andy Bramante isn’t just a science teacher; he’s the head of the renowned honors science research lab at Greenwich High School in Connecticut, a school that has “no curriculum, tests, textbooks, or lectures.” Bramante’s students don’t just win science fairs. Among other impressive accomplishments, they discover how to treat Lyme disease and then get full scholarships to MIT, Yale, and other prestigious colleges. So it’s no wonder that Tesoriero, an Emmy-winning former producer at CBS and reporter at Newsweek, Time, and the Wall Street Journal, latched on to him as a subject. His accolades alone scream “amazing feature story.” But what gets lost in the author’s exhaustive storytelling is any sense of plot; the book would have made a much better documentary. Still, the story has lots to recommend it. Dividing the narrative by season and then into chapters starring a handful of students, Tesoriero meticulously documents not just the students who make up Bramante’s course, but also their incredibly advanced projects: There’s Olivia, who created a low-cost Ebola test; Romano, the reformed jock working on an antibiotic-laced liquid bandage; and the astoundingly bright William Yin, a senior who developed a new test for arterial plaque buildup that could predict Alzheimer’s disease. No doubt these are remarkable individuals (a glance at the list of awards at the back of the book will confirm that) with impressive stories, but by chopping the book up by character and filling each chapter with science jargon, the author slows the narrative momentum. Halfway through Spring, readers may find themselves flipping back to Fall to figure out which kid is which. However, the book will prove worthwhile for those interested in innovative approaches to education. Bramante, unlike so many exceptional teachers, gets the attention he rightly deserves.

Mr. Wizard meets Sweet Valley High in a fly-on-the-wall look at some of the future scientists of America.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-18184-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science...


Bryson (I'm a Stranger Here Myself, 1999, etc.), a man who knows how to track down an explanation and make it confess, asks the hard questions of science—e.g., how did things get to be the way they are?—and, when possible, provides answers.

As he once went about making English intelligible, Bryson now attempts the same with the great moments of science, both the ideas themselves and their genesis, to resounding success. Piqued by his own ignorance on these matters, he’s egged on even more so by the people who’ve figured out—or think they’ve figured out—such things as what is in the center of the Earth. So he goes exploring, in the library and in company with scientists at work today, to get a grip on a range of topics from subatomic particles to cosmology. The aim is to deliver reports on these subjects in terms anyone can understand, and for the most part, it works. The most difficult is the nonintuitive material—time as part of space, say, or proteins inventing themselves spontaneously, without direction—and the quantum leaps unusual minds have made: as J.B.S. Haldane once put it, “The universe is not only queerer than we suppose; it is queerer than we can suppose.” Mostly, though, Bryson renders clear the evolution of continental drift, atomic structure, singularity, the extinction of the dinosaur, and a mighty host of other subjects in self-contained chapters that can be taken at a bite, rather than read wholesale. He delivers the human-interest angle on the scientists, and he keeps the reader laughing and willing to forge ahead, even over their heads: the human body, for instance, harboring enough energy “to explode with the force of thirty very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point.”

Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science into perspective.

Pub Date: May 6, 2003

ISBN: 0-7679-0817-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

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A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

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A collection of articulate, forceful speeches made from September 2018 to September 2019 by the Swedish climate activist who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Speaking in such venues as the European and British Parliaments, the French National Assembly, the Austrian World Summit, and the U.N. General Assembly, Thunberg has always been refreshingly—and necessarily—blunt in her demands for action from world leaders who refuse to address climate change. With clarity and unbridled passion, she presents her message that climate change is an emergency that must be addressed immediately, and she fills her speeches with punchy sound bites delivered in her characteristic pull-no-punches style: “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” In speech after speech, to persuade her listeners, she cites uncomfortable, even alarming statistics about global temperature rise and carbon dioxide emissions. Although this inevitably makes the text rather repetitive, the repetition itself has an impact, driving home her point so that no one can fail to understand its importance. Thunberg varies her style for different audiences. Sometimes it is the rousing “our house is on fire” approach; other times she speaks more quietly about herself and her hopes and her dreams. When addressing the U.S. Congress, she knowingly calls to mind the words and deeds of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. The last speech in the book ends on a note that is both challenging and upbeat: “We are the change and change is coming.” The edition published in Britain earlier this year contained 11 speeches; this updated edition has 16, all worth reading.

A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-14-313356-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2019

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