Rich information borders on overload, but passion cuts through the density.

A remarkably thorough tour of the world of sharks and marine scientists’ efforts to educate the public about our ocean’s apex predators.

Misconceptions fueled by sensationalized attack stories in the media and limb-rending horror films have painted sharks as bloodthirsty villains of the sea, lying in wait for tasty, unsuspecting humans. As Young (Whale Quest, 2017, etc.) explains, however, humans—a fairly new addition to sharks’ world with our 6 million years on the planet being a mere blip compared to sharks’ 420 million—actually represent the single greatest threat to sharks’ continued existence through harmful practices like finning, commercial fishing, and pollution. This human threat is not a new topic for informational texts, and here is where so many books conclude, perhaps with a final call for action and touch of doom—but not so with this one. Instead, Young’s interweaving of dismantled misinformation and captivating “shark truths” seamlessly leads into the activities undertaken by researchers and conservationists to better understand and protect shark populations. Projects like SharkCam robots, fully mapping the shark genome, and citizen-driven tagging initiatives not only ground readers in real efforts that are happening right now to address the harm humans are doing, but also propel readers forward by showing how much remains unknown about these powerful creatures.

Rich information borders on overload, but passion cuts through the density. (guide, notes, glossary, and bibliography) (Nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5124-9805-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Lerner

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018



A glib and occasionally spotty picture but eminently readable and generally on target.

A lighthearted view of the universe’s progress, from the Big Bang to the evolution of bacteria, bonobos—and “Joe Schmo from Buffalo.”

Returning continually to Mr. Schmo (“Jos Grootjes uit Driel” in the original Dutch) as his exemplar for Homo sapiens, Schutten starts simple—“Yes, even Lady Gaga is made up of atoms”—and proceeds from there. He explains how nonliving components combined to create living things of increasing complexity through evolution: “the greatest scientific idea of all time.” Defining “life” (arguably) as anything that eats, reproduces, and dies, he offers thoughts on selected biological structures and processes from genetics (“Your genes are actually the boss of you”) to how eyes developed and why it’s such a good idea to have some separation between mouth and butt. Declaring himself an agnostic, he also takes swipes at both intelligent design arguments and creationism. Though his discussion of hiccups is blurred by fuzzy logic, and viruses and extinction events rate barely a mention, his overall account of life’s origins and tenure is as rich in detail as it is entertaining. Rieder likewise supplies a flood of line drawings that provide humorous visual commentary as well as additional information.

A glib and occasionally spotty picture but eminently readable and generally on target. (end references, index) (Nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-58270-525-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Beyond Words/Aladdin

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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