Goosens admits that all the activities in the book have been described and/or done on the Internet and includes a list of...

COLA FOUNTAINS AND SPATTERING PAINT BOMBS

This collection of science tricks and experiments will have kids exploding things, launching them, or making them turn colors.

The activities included here feature such popular (and overdone) experiments as diet Coke and Mentos, baking soda–and-vinegar volcanoes, ooblek, elephant toothpaste, growing crystals, borax slime, and dissolving an egg’s shell. Mixed in with these are a few relatively dangerous ones: heating, cooling, and cracking glass marbles; making a teeter-totter of a candle burning at both ends; microwaving a grape to make a fireball; and making rockets of tea bags and matches. (There is a note about adult supervision, and there are also symbols delineating each experiment’s difficulty, messiness, explosiveness, etc.) Many directions are sorely in need of illustrated steps—words alone are not enough, and Faas’ illustrations are purely humorous. Several spreads are not arranged in linear fashion, so the “What You Need” boxes (which already tend to get lost on the page) may be after the “What Do You Do?” or the “Why Does It Work?” may come first, ruining surprise. Many of these explanations are rudimentary, incomplete, and/or unsatisfying: “The vinegar and baking soda combine to form carbon dioxide, which makes everything fizz and foam.” Readers will also regret the sprinkling of typos.

Goosens admits that all the activities in the book have been described and/or done on the Internet and includes a list of websites; young experimenters would do better to turn there first. (Nonfiction. 6-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-935954-52-1

Page Count: 104

Publisher: Lemniscaat USA

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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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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A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness.

THE BRAIN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

An introduction to the lead guitar and vocalist for the Brainiacs—the human brain.

The brain (familiar to readers of Seluk’s “The Awkward Yeti” webcomic, which spun off the adult title Heart and Brain, 2015) looks like a dodgeball with arms and legs—pinkish, sturdy, and roundish, with a pair of square-framed spectacles bestowing an air of importance and hipness. Other organs of the body—tongue, lungs, stomach, muscle, and heart—are featured as members of the brain’s rock band (the verso of the dust jacket is a poster of the band). Seluk’s breezy, conversational prose and brightly colored, boldly outlined cartoon illustrations deliver basic information. The brain’s role in keeping the heart beating and other automatic functions, directing body movements, interpreting sights and sounds, remembering smells and tastes, and regulating sleep and hunger are all explained, prose augmented by dialogue balloons and information sidebars. Seluk points out, importantly, that feelings originate in the brain: “You can control how you react…but your feelings happen no matter what.” The parodied album covers on the front endpapers (including the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Green Day, Run DMC, Queen, Nirvana) will amuse parents—or at least grandparents—and the rear endpapers serve up band members’ clever social media and texting screenshots. Backmatter includes a glossary and further brain trivia but no resources or bibliography.

A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-16700-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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