FULL OF LIFE

EXPLORING EARTH'S BIODIVERSITY

Absolutely stunning.

A journey through the world of all life on Earth.

Sure, it sounds like a lot—and it is. But by linking all of existence into “Earth’s tree of life”—a concept that borrows from genealogy—readers will find an accessible organization that breaks down the world of living beings into a clear and fascinating read. Starting with true bacteria, the organization moves through archaea (tiny microbes) to eukaryotes (plants, algae, fungi, and animals) and ends with infectious particles (with a note clarifying that scientists don’t agree about whether they are alive). Particularly noteworthy—if one aspect in this exceptional book could be said to be more successful than another—is the overall visual presentation. The graphics are clean, colorful, sophisticated, and eye-catching. Each double-page spread follows the same format: A clade (“a group of living things that share a common ancestor”) is highlighted and described. Common traits, where it fits in the tree of life, its scientific name, more unusual aspects of some members, as well as any benefits or detriments the clade may have to humankind (for example, many bacteria are used to develop medicines) are presented in an organized, easy-to-understand manner. Humans are given the same treatment as the rest of the living creatures, and from this, readers will understand we are just one life form out of billions, and our survival depends on the health of every other living thing.

Absolutely stunning. (resources, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 10-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-83866-536-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Phaidon

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

BILL NYE'S GREAT BIG WORLD OF SCIENCE

Wordplay and wry wit put extra fun into a trove of fundamental knowledge.

With an amped-up sense of wonder, the Science Guy surveys the natural universe.

Starting from first principles like the scientific method, Nye and his co-author marvel at the “Amazing Machine” that is the human body then go on to talk up animals, plants, evolution, physics and chemistry, the quantum realm, geophysics, and climate change. They next venture out into the solar system and beyond. Along with tallying select aspects and discoveries in each chapter, the authors gather up “Massively Important” central concepts, send shoutouts to underrecognized women scientists like oceanographer Marie Tharp, and slip in directions for homespun experiments and demonstrations. They also challenge readers to ponder still-unsolved scientific posers and intersperse rousing quotes from working scientists about how exciting and wide open their respective fields are. If a few of those fields, like the fungal kingdom, get short shrift (one spare paragraph notwithstanding), readers are urged often enough to go look things up for themselves to kindle a compensatory habit. Aside from posed photos of Nye and a few more of children (mostly presenting as White) doing science-y things, the full-color graphic and photographic images not only reflect the overall “get this!” tone but consistently enrich the flow of facts and reflections. “Our universe is a strange and surprising place,” Nye writes. “Stay curious.” Words to live by.

Wordplay and wry wit put extra fun into a trove of fundamental knowledge. (contributors, art credits, selected bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4676-5

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Aug. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

ISAAC NEWTON

From the Giants of Science series

Hot on the heels of the well-received Leonardo da Vinci (2005) comes another agreeably chatty entry in the Giants of Science series. Here the pioneering physicist is revealed as undeniably brilliant, but also cantankerous, mean-spirited, paranoid and possibly depressive. Newton’s youth and annus mirabilis receive respectful treatment, the solitude enforced by family estrangement and then the plague seen as critical to the development of his thoughtful, methodical approach. His subsequent squabbles with the rest of the scientific community—he refrained from publishing one treatise until his rival was dead—further support the image of Newton as a scientific lone wolf. Krull’s colloquial treatment sketches Newton’s advances in clearly understandable terms without bogging the text down with detailed explanations. A final chapter on “His Impact” places him squarely in the pantheon of great thinkers, arguing that both his insistence on the scientific method and his theories of physics have informed all subsequent scientific thought. A bibliography, web site and index round out the volume; the lack of detail on the use of sources is regrettable in an otherwise solid offering for middle-grade students. (Biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-670-05921-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2006

Close Quickview