Art, text, and layout create a pleasing combination for a science shelf or a coffee table.

SECRETS OF THE SEA

The introduction accurately states that “this book shines a light on a few of the extraordinary creatures that live beneath the waves.”

The Table of Contents, in large type over a watery background that sports a few sea creatures, lists five sections, including “In the Shallows,” “Coral Gardens,” and “Into the Deep.” Each section contains double-page spreads of dramatic artwork—often of images of blown-up microscopy—that cannot help but draw readers in. Has a 1/8-inch daphnia ever looked so winsome, or have fish gills ever seemed so beautiful? The format of the text is clear and accessible. Each spread’s organism—or group of organisms—shows a common name, Latin name, size, and brief description. There follow a few short paragraphs with more information, some of which emphasize the importance of all members of ecosystems: “Herbivores like the parrotfish help to prevent the reef from becoming choked by algae.” Readers will recognize a few of the highlighted creatures, but it is refreshing to find so many less-than-popular organisms getting some attention. In fact, there are no pages devoted to marine mammals, which arguably also live beneath the waves. Such terms as “bioluminescent,” “polyps,” and “symbiotic” have adequate explanations, but others, including “cephalopod,” “crustacean,” and “prehensile,” may have readers searching in vain for a glossary.

Art, text, and layout create a pleasing combination for a science shelf or a coffee table. (selected bibliography) (Informational picture book. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9839-3

Page Count: 90

Publisher: Big Picture/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Pretty but insubstantial.

THE BIG BOOK OF BIRDS

Zommer surveys various bird species from around the world in this oversized (almost 14 inches tall tall) volume.

While exuberantly presented, the information is not uniformly expressed from bird to bird, which in the best cases will lead readers to seek out additional information and in the worst cases will lead to frustration. For example, on spreads that feature multiple species, the birds are not labeled. This happens again later when the author presents facts about eggs: Readers learn about camouflaged eggs, but the specific eggs are not identified, making further study extremely difficult. Other facts are misleading: A spread on “city birds” informs readers that “peregrine falcons nest on skyscrapers in New York City”—but they also nest in other large cities. In a sexist note, a peahen is identified as “unlucky” because she “has drab brown feathers” instead of flashy ones like the peacock’s. Illustrations are colorful and mostly identifiable but stylized; Zommer depicts his birds with both eyes visible at all times, even when the bird is in profile. The primary audience for the book appears to be British, as some spreads focus on European birds over their North American counterparts, such as the mute swan versus the trumpeter swan and the European robin versus the American robin. The backmatter, a seven-word glossary and an index, doesn’t provide readers with much support.

Pretty but insubstantial. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-500-65151-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more