Budding scientists and mess-makers alike are sure to concoct lots of fun.



A mad-scientist manual that satisfies both the senses and the intellect, this is sure to be a popular, if somewhat sticky, title.

While not many of the projects in this book will necessarily be new to readers (or their adult minions), they are well known for a reason, and Brown rounds out the fun with his humorous presentation, as well as the gross factor. But this is much more than simply messy fun. Brown provides solid scientific explanations and introduces great vocabulary and concepts. A comprehensive safety section kicks off the book, then it’s on to the action. In “Slime and Goo,” readers are introduced to the tactile wonders that can be created with cornstarch, Borax and white glue. “Totally Gross” allows children to explore their more mature sides with fake vomit, snot and blood. Baking soda, vinegar, Pop Rocks, Alka-seltzer, soda and Mentos are the featured ingredients in “That’s Gas-tastic!,” while “Crazy Colors” might entail a trip to the store for iodine and red cabbage (and perhaps a re-supply of food coloring). “Incredible and Edible” lets kids explore the chemistry that allows cakes to rise, cucumbers to pickle and Jell-O to glow. Finally, with his “Create Your Own Concoctions” chapter, Brown encourages readers to mix up their own recipes based on the rules within his seven challenges. Owsley’s cartoon illustrations add more humor to the text, as well as helping children with the steps of the experiments.

Budding scientists and mess-makers alike are sure to concoct lots of fun. (Nonfiction. 7-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-936140-51-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Imagine Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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


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


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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