Attractively designed and engagingly written—sure to appeal to readers with a taste for the scientific and technical.

SAVE THE CRASH-TEST DUMMIES

This jaunt through the history of car safety engineering reveals that we have both human and mechanical crash-test dummies to thank for making driving much safer than it was a century ago, when cars first became ubiquitous.

The now-familiar crash-test dummy has its origins in Sierra Sam, an anthropomorphic test device invented in 1949 to test aircraft ejection seats for the Air Force. In 1968, a new ATD was created to meet car companies’ needs, designed to enable engineers to see how humans move during a crash. Before ATDs, engineers had to use live animals, human cadavers, and live human volunteers in safety tests. The Hybrid III used for the last 30 years is the type of crash-test dummy designed to survive a frontal impact crash. Hybrid III is full of electronics, including “accelerometers, potentiometers, and load cells,” which convey information to engineers that aids them in designing safer cars. In addition to discussing such car safety developments as bumpers, brakes, seat belts, and air bags, Swanson fills her narrative with other fascinating nuggets of automotive history and explanations of how cars work, with helpful accompanying diagrams. She concludes with a look at autonomous cars. Grooms’ illustrations add both touches of humor and visual clarity; they are complemented by archival images.

Attractively designed and engagingly written—sure to appeal to readers with a taste for the scientific and technical. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68263-022-8

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both.

FLASH FACTS

Flash, Batman, and other characters from the DC Comics universe tackle supervillains and STEM-related topics and sometimes, both.

Credited to 20 writers and illustrators in various combinations, the 10 episodes invite readers to tag along as Mera and Aquaman visit oceanic zones from epipelagic to hadalpelagic; Supergirl helps a young scholar pick a science-project topic by taking her on a tour of the solar system; and Swamp Thing lends Poison Ivy a hand to describe how DNA works (later joining Swamp Kid to scuttle a climate-altering scheme by Arcane). In other episodes, various costumed creations explain the ins and outs of diverse large- and small-scale phenomena, including electricity, atomic structure, forensic techniques, 3-D printing, and the lactate threshold. Presumably on the supposition that the characters will be more familiar to readers than the science, the minilectures tend to start from simple basics, but the figures are mostly both redrawn to look more childlike than in the comics and identified only in passing. Drawing styles and page designs differ from chapter to chapter but not enough to interrupt overall visual unity and flow—and the cast is sufficiently diverse to include roles for superheroes (and villains) of color like Cyborg, Kid Flash, and the Latina Green Lantern, Jessica Cruz. Appended lists of websites and science-based YouTube channels, plus instructions for homespun activities related to each episode, point inspired STEM-winders toward further discoveries.

Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both. (Graphic nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77950-382-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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