THE FIRST DINOSAUR

HOW SCIENCE SOLVED THE GREATEST MYSTERY ON EARTH

An outstanding case study in how science is actually done: funny, nuanced, and perceptive.

How does a new, truly revolutionary idea become established scientific fact?

Lendler spins his account of how the awesome age and significance of fossils came to be understood into a grand yarn that begins 168 million years ago. He fast-forwards to 1676 and the first recorded fossil fragment of what was later named Megalosaurus and builds on the premise of “The Blind Men and the Elephant” to trace the ensuing, incremental accretion of stunning evidence over the next two centuries that the Earth is far older than the Bible seems to suggest and was once populated by creatures that no longer exist. It’s a story that abounds in smart, colorful characters including Mary Anning, Richard Owen (a brilliant scholar but “a horrible human being”), and Gideon Mantell, “a dude who really, really loved fossils.” Along the way the author fills readers in on coprolites (“the proof was in the pooing”), highlights the importance of recording discoveries, and explains how the tentative suggestion that certain fossils might have come from members of the “Lizard Tribe” morphed into the settled concept of “dinosaur.” Though he tells a Eurocentric tale, the author incorporates references to sexism and class preconceptions into his picture of scientific progress. Butzer’s illustrations add decorative and, sometimes, comical notes to sheaves of side notes, quotations, charts, maps, and period portraits and images.

An outstanding case study in how science is actually done: funny, nuanced, and perceptive. (bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 10-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2700-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

ENEMY CHILD

THE STORY OF NORMAN MINETA, A BOY IMPRISONED IN A JAPANESE AMERICAN INTERNMENT CAMP DURING WORLD WAR II

Written straightforwardly, it’s not the most engaging read, but it is an invaluable record of an incredible life.

An encompassing look at Norman Mineta, the first Asian-American to serve as mayor of a major American city, a Congressman, and Secretary of Commerce and Transportation under George W. Bush.

Mineta is a Nisei, a second-generation Japanese-American, born in San Jose, California. Writing efficiently with concise descriptors, Warren narrates in the third person, focusing primarily on the family and social environment of Mineta’s school-age years. Warren starts with Mineta’s father and his immigration to the U.S. for work. He wisely became fluent in English while working in the fields, later establishing his own insurance business, enabling him to give all five children great educational opportunities. Their lives are quickly disrupted by World World II. Mineta now 11, his parents, and most of his much-older siblings are sent to an assembly center in Santa Anita, California. Eventually they end up in Heart Mountain War Relocation Center, Wyoming. The experience drives Mineta to later pursue politics and to introduce the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, offering camp survivors restitution and a formal apology from the government. Warren includes anecdotes of white allies, including a chapter about Alan Simpson, a childhood acquaintance and later a political ally of Mineta in Congress. Pronunciation guides to Japanese are provided in the text. Archival photographs provide visuals, and primary-source quotes—including racial slurs—contribute historical context. No timeline is provided.

Written straightforwardly, it’s not the most engaging read, but it is an invaluable record of an incredible life. (author’s note, bibliography, index) (Biography. 10-15)

Pub Date: April 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4151-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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GIVE ME LIBERTY!

THE STORY OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

If Freedman wrote the history textbooks, we would have many more historians. Beginning with an engrossing description of the Boston Tea Party in 1773, he brings the reader the lives of the American colonists and the events leading up to the break with England. The narrative approach to history reads like a good story, yet Freedman tucks in the data that give depth to it. The inclusion of all the people who lived during those times and the roles they played, whether small or large are acknowledged with dignity. The story moves backwards from the Boston Tea Party to the beginning of the European settlement of what they called the New World, and then proceeds chronologically to the signing of the Declaration. “Your Rights and Mine” traces the influence of the document from its inception to the present ending with Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. The full text of the Declaration and a reproduction of the original are included. A chronology of events and an index are helpful to the young researcher. Another interesting feature is “Visiting the Declaration of Independence.” It contains a short review of what happened to the document in the years after it was written, a useful Web site, and a description of how it is displayed and protected today at the National Archives building in Washington, D.C. Illustrations from the period add interest and detail. An excellent addition to the American history collection and an engrossing read. (Nonfiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8234-1448-5

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2000

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