Science rules the day, but “at the same time, keep an open mind”: wise words.

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STRANGE BUT TRUE

10 OF THE WORLD'S GREATEST MYSTERIES EXPLAINED

Scientific explanations for mysteries that have given rise to fantastical stories.

Encounters with aliens and haunted houses, quests for lost worlds and monsters of the deep, mysteries of ancient tombs and those returned from the dead—all sparkle here both as stories and as targets for scientific examination in Hulick and Wright’s terrific collection of creepy events. “Every mystery has an explanation. Getting to the bottom of it is what science is all about,” writes Hulick. But that doesn’t keep her from giving full voice to the mysteries at the beginning of each episode. Having set the folkloric or legendary scene, and accompanied by transportingly spooky artwork from Wright, Hulick puts on her scientist’s cap and seeks to make sense of the mysteries. In some cases the answers are circumstantial (“people experience strange things in haunted houses because they’re expecting strange things to happen”) and in other cases, clear-cut, as in the photograph of the Loch Ness Monster that turned out to be a hoax (but not before gaining plenty of traction). The book touches down all over the map of mysteries, from telepathy, clairvoyance, and telekinesis to Mu and Atlantis, Yeti and Bigfoot, the kraken and the Bermuda Triangle. The tone is respectful of both the mystery and the conclusions, of which not all are the last word. “The truth is that the natural world is an amazing place.”

Science rules the day, but “at the same time, keep an open mind”: wise words. (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-784-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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THE ARABIAN NIGHTS

In a large, handsome format, Tarnowska offers six tales plus an abbreviated version of the frame story, retold in formal but contemporary language and sandwiched between a note on the Nights’ place in her childhood in Lebanon and a page of glossary and source notes. Rather than preserve the traditional embedded structure and cliffhanger cutoffs, she keeps each story discrete and tones down the sex and violence. This structure begs the question of why Shahriyar lets Shahrazade [sic] live if she tells each evening’s tale complete, but it serves to simplify the reading for those who want just one tale at a time. Only the opener, “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp,” is likely to be familiar to young readers; in others a prince learns to control a flying “Ebony Horse” by “twiddling” its ears, contending djinn argue whether “Prince Kamar el Zaman [or] Princess Boudour” is the more beautiful (the prince wins) and in a Cinderella tale a “Diamond Anklet” subs for the glass slipper. Hénaff’s stylized scenes of domed cityscapes and turbaned figures add properly whimsical visual notes to this short but animated gathering. (Folktales. 10-12)

 

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-84686-122-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Barefoot

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2010

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ONCE UPON A MARIGOLD

From the Marigold Trilogy series , Vol. 1

Cold indeed is the heart not made warm by this bubbly fairy-tale romance. Raised by a kindly forest troll, Christian knows little of the world beyond what he can see through his telescope, but gazing upon a nearby castle, he falls head over heels for Princess Marigold. What chance has he, though, as a (supposed) commoner? When at last he nerves himself to send her a message via carrier pigeon, she answers and the courtship is on—via “p-mail” at first, then, after he lands a job as a castle servant, face to face. Setting numerous fairy-tale conventions just a bit askew, Ferris (Of Sound Mind, 2001, etc.) surrounds her two smart, immensely likable teenagers, who are obviously made for each other, with rival suitors, hyperactive dogs, surprising allies, and strong adversaries. The most notable among the last is devious, domineering Queen Olympia, intent on forcing Marigold into marriage with a penniless, but noble, cipher. The author gets her commonsensical couple to “I Do” through brisk palace intrigue, life-threatening situations, riotous feasting, and general chaos; Queen Olympia gets suitable comeuppance, and the festivities are capped by the required revelation that Christian is actually heir to the throne of neighboring Zandelphia. Fans of Gail Carson Levine’s Princess Tales will be in familiar territory here, as well as seventh heaven. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-15-216791-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

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