An outstanding biography of a brilliant and fascinating man who is well worth the attention.

WHAT LINNAEUS SAW

A SCIENTIST'S QUEST TO NAME AND CATALOG EVERY LIVING THING

Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) was responsible for developing a method for classifying and naming plants and animals that remains in use today.

Linnaeus, born in Sweden, was an indifferent student, showing a complete lack of enthusiasm for the career in the ministry his parents intended he follow. It was nature that sparked his interest and eventually drove his future path to become a physician and, more importantly, a naturalist and influential college professor who inspired many of the next generation of scientists. It had been clear to Linnaeus from his youth that the study of the natural world badly needed a uniform method for organizing discoveries. After examining several existing methods, all of them significantly flawed, Linnaeus used his thorough understanding of nature to craft logical methods of classification and naming. They were quickly recognized by many European scientists as inspired methods for managing the complexity of the natural world, coming at a critical time when European explorations were resulting in myriad discoveries new to them. Beil’s enthusiastic exploration of what could have been a dry and tedious topic is instead a highly engaging and entertaining page-turning presentation further enlivened with numerous period illustrations that perfectly accompany comprehensively researched text. Excellent backmatter rounds out this fine effort.

An outstanding biography of a brilliant and fascinating man who is well worth the attention. (Biography. 10-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-324-00468-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Wordplay and wry wit put extra fun into a trove of fundamental knowledge.

BILL NYE'S GREAT BIG WORLD OF SCIENCE

With an amped-up sense of wonder, the Science Guy surveys the natural universe.

Starting from first principles like the scientific method, Nye and his co-author marvel at the “Amazing Machine” that is the human body then go on to talk up animals, plants, evolution, physics and chemistry, the quantum realm, geophysics, and climate change. They next venture out into the solar system and beyond. Along with tallying select aspects and discoveries in each chapter, the authors gather up “Massively Important” central concepts, send shoutouts to underrecognized women scientists like oceanographer Marie Tharp, and slip in directions for homespun experiments and demonstrations. They also challenge readers to ponder still-unsolved scientific posers and intersperse rousing quotes from working scientists about how exciting and wide open their respective fields are. If a few of those fields, like the fungal kingdom, get short shrift (one spare paragraph notwithstanding), readers are urged often enough to go look things up for themselves to kindle a compensatory habit. Aside from posed photos of Nye and a few more of children (mostly presenting as White) doing science-y things, the full-color graphic and photographic images not only reflect the overall “get this!” tone but consistently enrich the flow of facts and reflections. “Our universe is a strange and surprising place,” Nye writes. “Stay curious.” Words to live by.

Wordplay and wry wit put extra fun into a trove of fundamental knowledge. (contributors, art credits, selected bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4676-5

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Aug. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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A standout among writing guides, valuable for its sage and friendly encouragement and for the sheer fun of hanging out with...

WRITING RADAR

USING YOUR JOURNAL TO SNOOP OUT AND CRAFT GREAT STORIES

Advice on writing from one of the best writers around.

“I’m a writer and I’m on your side,” Gantos says, as if he’s putting an arm around a young writer’s shoulder and guiding them through a door to a new life. With a snappy voice, his own funny ink drawings, and expertise drawn from a career full of great books, he covers just about everything: where to find ideas and characters, how to structure a story, why to keep a journal, and even what to write with. Every step of the way he includes examples from his own writing. As humorous as he is, Gantos is authoritative and serious about his craft, careful to include every building block for constructing a good story—characters, setting, problem, action, crisis, resolution, and the need for a double ending (physical and emotional). Chapter 2 (“Getting Started”) ought to be read by all teachers and parents: it’s a manifesto on how to raise a reader (and writer) by reading aloud excellent picture books to young children and placing good books in the hands of children as they get older, and he offers a handy list of just what some of those books should be. While his list of picture books is not a particularly diverse one, the middle-grade titles suggested are nicely inclusive.

A standout among writing guides, valuable for its sage and friendly encouragement and for the sheer fun of hanging out with Jack. (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-374-30456-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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