Graham explores the building of “megastructures,” from skyscrapers to stadiums, bridges to dams, opera houses, tunnels and oil-drilling platforms.

This is one of those big, busy books that jam a lot of information onto the page via boxed insets, quick, jumpy paragraphs with attention-grabbing snippets, and a tumble of artwork and illustrations, with an occasional gatefold that feels as big as a quilt. Nothing is conveyed with much context or depth. The material all comes in a rush, so it pays to slow down and drink it in; readers must assemble all the components to get the big picture. Graham is informed and in his brusqueness has chosen all the right tidbits. There are fun facts—how long it takes to paint the Eiffel Tower or wash all the windows in Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building; how all the concrete in the Hoover Dam could pave a highway from San Francisco to New York City—and an array of monster problems that can beset massive structures. There are peeks at future megastructures as well as photos of contemporary ones, such as offshore drilling platforms, the “Blinking-Eye Bridge” over the River Tyne in England and the Large Hadron Collider, that are utterly futuristic. Nor has Graham forsaken the past, with visits paid to the Ponte Vecchio, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Delaware Aqueduct. A rangy and exuberant, if skimming, introduction to giant, man-made structures. (Nonfiction. 7-10) 


Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-77085-111-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Firefly

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans.


In the wake of Everything Awesome About Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Beasts! (2019), Lowery spins out likewise frothy arrays of facts and observations about sharks, whales, giant squid, and smaller but no less extreme (or at least extremely interesting) sea life.

He provides plenty of value-added features, from overviews of oceanic zones and environments to jokes, drawing instructions, and portrait galleries suitable for copying or review. While not one to pass up any opportunity to, for instance, characterize ambergris as “whale vomit perfume” or the clownfish’s protective coating as “snot armor,” he also systematically introduces members of each of the eight orders of sharks, devotes most of a page to the shark’s electroreceptive ampullae of Lorenzini, and even sheds light on the unobvious differences between jellyfish and the Portuguese man-of-war or the reason why the blue octopus is said to have “arms” rather than “tentacles.” He also argues persuasively that sharks have gotten a bad rap (claiming that more people are killed each year by…vending machines) and closes with pleas to be concerned about plastic waste, to get involved in conservation efforts, and (cannily) to get out and explore our planet because (quoting Jacques-Yves Cousteau) “People protect what they love.” Human figures, some with brown skin, pop up occasionally to comment in the saturated color illustrations. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 45% of actual size.)

An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans. (bibliography, list of organizations) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35973-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)



Cusick floats a slick, select gallery of nature’s spitters, nose-pickers, oozers, and slimers—most but not all nonhuman—atop nourishing globs of scientific information.

Title notwithstanding, the book is limited just to mucus and saliva. Following introductory looks at the major components of each, Cusick describes their often similar uses in nature—in swallowing or expelling foreign matter, fighting disease, predation and defense, camouflage, travel, communication (“Aren’t you glad humans use words to communicate?”), home construction, nutrition, and more. All of this is presented in easily digestible observations placed among, and often referring to, color photos of slime-covered goby fish, a giraffe with its tongue up its nose, various drooling animals, including a white infant, and like photogenic subjects. Two simple experiments cater to hands-on types, but any readers who take delight in sentences like “Some fungus beetles eat snail slime mucus” come away both stimulated and informed.

What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63322-115-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Moondance/Quarto

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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