DINOSAUR GHOSTS

THE MYSTERY OF COELOPHYSIS

An essential purchase—Gillette (The Search for Seismosaurus, 1994) has written another involving book about a topic of guaranteed interest to children. The book opens in 1947, when paleontologists dug up tons of tightly packed bones in the canyons near Ghost Ranch, N.M.; since then they have studied and puzzled over the cause of the sudden extinction of the speedy, dog-sized dinosaurs called Coelophysis, who roamed New Mexico 225 million years ago. Gillette demonstrates the scientific method, postulating a hypothesis and then investigating it against the evidence found in rocks and fossils. Did a sticky pit like La Brea trap the little dinosaurs? Was it a volcanic eruption? Asteroids? Poisoned water? She tests each hypothesis, presents the most likely explanation, given current evidence, and concludes that the answer is not yet final: ``Scientists are always ready to change their ideas to fit what they learn.'' The paintings by Henderson are satisfying, full- color renderings of the dinosaurs, their habitat, and the catastrophe envisioned in each hypothesis. Photos of excavators and bones provide additional intrigue. (glossary, index) (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8037-1721-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1997

CLUES TO THE UNIVERSE

Charming, poignant, and thoughtfully woven.

An aspiring scientist and a budding artist become friends and help each other with dream projects.

Unfolding in mid-1980s Sacramento, California, this story stars 12-year-olds Rosalind and Benjamin as first-person narrators in alternating chapters. Ro’s father, a fellow space buff, was killed by a drunk driver; the rocket they were working on together lies unfinished in her closet. As for Benji, not only has his best friend, Amir, moved away, but the comic book holding the clue for locating his dad is also missing. Along with their profound personal losses, the protagonists share a fixation with the universe’s intriguing potential: Ro decides to complete the rocket and hopes to launch mementos of her father into outer space while Benji’s conviction that aliens and UFOs are real compels his imagination and creativity as an artist. An accident in science class triggers a chain of events forcing Benji and Ro, who is new to the school, to interact and unintentionally learn each other’s secrets. They resolve to find Benji’s dad—a famous comic-book artist—and partner to finish Ro’s rocket for the science fair. Together, they overcome technical, scheduling, and geographical challenges. Readers will be drawn in by amusing and fantastical elements in the comic book theme, high emotional stakes that arouse sympathy, and well-drawn character development as the protagonists navigate life lessons around grief, patience, self-advocacy, and standing up for others. Ro is biracial (Chinese/White); Benji is White.

Charming, poignant, and thoughtfully woven. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-300888-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

WEATHER

Remarking that ``nothing about the weather is very simple,'' Simon goes on to describe how the sun, atmosphere, earth's rotation, ground cover, altitude, pollution, and other factors influence it; briefly, he also tells how weather balloons gather information. Even for this outstanding author, it's a tough, complex topic, and he's not entirely successful in simplifying it; moreover, the import of the striking uncaptioned color photos here isn't always clear. One passage—``Cumulus clouds sometimes build up into towering masses called cumulus congestus, or swelling cumulus, which may turn into cumulonimbus clouds''—is superimposed on a blue-gray, cloud-covered landscape. But which kind of clouds are these? Another photo, in blue-black and white, shows what might be precipitation in the upper atmosphere, or rain falling on a darkened landscape, or...? Generally competent and certainly attractive, but not Simon's best. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-688-10546-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1993

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