This lively blend of science and history is an outstanding example of narrative nonfiction.

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A DOG IN THE CAVE

THE WOLVES WHO MADE US HUMAN

A compelling look at the origins of and the ongoing unique relationship between humans and dogs.

In what’s at once a clear presentation of the science that explains the special connection between two species and a history of that science, Frydenborg puts forth information that should appeal to readers of all persuasions. She looks at both the evolution of wolves and humankind’s earliest ancestors for the clues that helped scientists understand how the highly social wolves came to be domesticated by humans, who began as solitary predators. By explaining various branches of science, including paleontology and genetics, and techniques such as radiocarbon dating and MRI scans, the author guides readers to an understanding of this unfolding story. She even includes the role of psychology for both. There are interesting sidelights, such as superstitions about wolves and Darwin’s love of dogs, which fueled his interests and the development of the British and American kennel clubs. The tale never flags and is enriched by photographs and sidebar information that very rarely disrupts the telling. One such insert is a highly useful description of the scientific method and what the author calls “the value of what-if.” Backmatter includes a glossary, chapter notes, selected bibliography, internet resources, and index (not seen).

This lively blend of science and history is an outstanding example of narrative nonfiction. (Nonfiction 12 & up)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-28656-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Immediately actionable: use less, think more, and do something.

CHALLENGE EVERYTHING

THE EXTINCTION REBELLION YOUTH GUIDE TO SAVING THE PLANET

A youth activist’s blueprint for mitigating climate catastrophe.

Although Sandford, a 17-year-old Extinction Rebellion Youth London coordinator, knows the relevant research, she isn’t concerned with making the case for anthropogenic climate change in her authorial debut. Per scientific consensus, ecological collapse is a pressing reality that demands action, and writing—or reading—a manifesto isn’t akin to activism. Indeed, it’s a form of greenwashing: making a superficial improvement (taking a reusable tote to the grocer) while perpetuating systemic issues (purchasing unsustainable products). To make meaningful change, one must acknowledge complicity and take ultimate responsibility for individual decisions. This concise, personable, and unpretentious book contains three illustrated sections, each concluding with a self-questionnaire to aid readers in gauging their own engagement. The first, on combatting big business, shares primers on boycotting, petitioning, and conscientious consumption relative to agriculture, beauty, fast fashion, and travel. The second, on inadequate governmental responses, urges civic participation and outlines procedures for protesting, striking, and taking nonviolent direct action. The third models self-sufficiency through reclamation and rewilding; scavenging for food and goods; community-building; and consuming art, the natural world, and human experiences rather than commodities. Throughout, Sandford implores readers to constantly interrogate and amend their own beliefs: question what you’re told, choose your own morals, and know that your opinions matter. All merits aside, a bibliography is sorely lacking.

Immediately actionable: use less, think more, and do something. (Nonfiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-84365-464-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Pavilion Children's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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A concise companion and update to Vicki Oransky Wittenstein’s Planet Hunter (2010).

EXOPLANETS

WORLDS BEYOND OUR SOLAR SYSTEM

An enticing overview of tools, techniques, and discoveries in what the author rightly characterizes “a red-hot field in astronomy.”

Alas; it is perhaps too red-hot. Not only is Kenney’s count of accepted and potential exoplanets (as of May 2016) well out of date already, but her claim that “Wolf-1061” (sic: that’s actually the name of the star and its system) is the nearest Earthlike planet in the habitable “Goldilocks Zone” has been trumped by the recent discovery of a closer candidate orbiting Proxima Centauri. Still, along with describing in nontechnical terms each tool in the researcher’s kit—from space- and ground-based telescopes of various types to instruments that detect subtle stellar wobbles, spectrum changes, microlensing, and other telling signs—the author fills in the historical background of exoplanet research and profiles some of its weirder findings. She also casts side glances at extremophile life on Earth and other, at least tangentially related, topics. The small format gives the assortment of photos, artists’ renditions, diagrams, and generic star fields a cramped look, but readers curious about how researchers could possibly detect such dinky, distant objects as planets belonging to other star systems will come away satisfied and intrigued.

A concise companion and update to Vicki Oransky Wittenstein’s Planet Hunter (2010). (index, source notes, bibliography, websites) (Nonfiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5124-0086-1

Page Count: 92

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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