A ribbet-tickling roundabout for armchair astronauts and Magic School Bus grads.

ALBERT HOPPER, SCIENCE HERO

BLASTING THROUGH THE SOLAR SYSTEM!

From the Albert Hopper, Science Hero series , Vol. 2

Junior Science Heroes Polly and Tad join Uncle Albert in a tour of the local astronomical pond.

Fresh from exploring the Earth’s inward reaches in the series opener (2020), the three intrepid frog explorers hop aboard a rocket headed for the acid clouds of Venus and Mercury’s extremes of hot and cold. “From there,” Albert proclaims with characteristic grandiloquence, “we blast our way to…the VERY SUN ITSELF!” “Won’t we melt?” asks timorous Tad. “We’ll find out in two more chapters.” Spoiler alert: They don’t melt (unlike their fuel stores of “frozen dihydrogen monoxide,” i.e., water). In a rollicking tumble of narrow squeaks and basic science facts the voyage continues past planets and select moons all the way out to the Kuiper belt and back. Almost back, that is—thanks to an easily confused autopilot. (Tad: “Has the autopilot ever actually worked?” Albert: “Someday!” Ted: “I don’t think you answered my question.” Polly: “No, I think he did.”) Their unscheduled landing on the moon leaves the trio marveling at the view of a “big, beautiful blue planet called Earth.” The thick-lined cartoons on nearly every well-leaded page aren’t much for fine detail, but they do reflect the tongue-in-cheek tone. By way of a recap Polly and Tad add, respectively, personal notes and drawings at the end.

A ribbet-tickling roundabout for armchair astronauts and Magic School Bus grads. (Informational fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-23018-8

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans.

EVERYTHING AWESOME ABOUT SHARKS AND OTHER UNDERWATER CREATURES!

In the wake of Everything Awesome About Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Beasts! (2019), Lowery spins out likewise frothy arrays of facts and observations about sharks, whales, giant squid, and smaller but no less extreme (or at least extremely interesting) sea life.

He provides plenty of value-added features, from overviews of oceanic zones and environments to jokes, drawing instructions, and portrait galleries suitable for copying or review. While not one to pass up any opportunity to, for instance, characterize ambergris as “whale vomit perfume” or the clownfish’s protective coating as “snot armor,” he also systematically introduces members of each of the eight orders of sharks, devotes most of a page to the shark’s electroreceptive ampullae of Lorenzini, and even sheds light on the unobvious differences between jellyfish and the Portuguese man-of-war or the reason why the blue octopus is said to have “arms” rather than “tentacles.” He also argues persuasively that sharks have gotten a bad rap (claiming that more people are killed each year by…vending machines) and closes with pleas to be concerned about plastic waste, to get involved in conservation efforts, and (cannily) to get out and explore our planet because (quoting Jacques-Yves Cousteau) “People protect what they love.” Human figures, some with brown skin, pop up occasionally to comment in the saturated color illustrations. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 45% of actual size.)

An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans. (bibliography, list of organizations) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35973-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

GET THE SCOOP ON ANIMAL SNOT, SPIT & SLIME!

FROM SNAKE VENOM TO FISH SLIME, 251 COOL FACTS ABOUT MUCUS, SALIVA & MORE

Cusick floats a slick, select gallery of nature’s spitters, nose-pickers, oozers, and slimers—most but not all nonhuman—atop nourishing globs of scientific information.

Title notwithstanding, the book is limited just to mucus and saliva. Following introductory looks at the major components of each, Cusick describes their often similar uses in nature—in swallowing or expelling foreign matter, fighting disease, predation and defense, camouflage, travel, communication (“Aren’t you glad humans use words to communicate?”), home construction, nutrition, and more. All of this is presented in easily digestible observations placed among, and often referring to, color photos of slime-covered goby fish, a giraffe with its tongue up its nose, various drooling animals, including a white infant, and like photogenic subjects. Two simple experiments cater to hands-on types, but any readers who take delight in sentences like “Some fungus beetles eat snail slime mucus” come away both stimulated and informed.

What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63322-115-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Moondance/Quarto

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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