Fans of these popular marine mammals will be intrigued.


From the Scientists in the Field series

On boats and in labs, biologists study the dwindling population of orcas living in the waters off the San Juan Islands between Canada and Washington.

A study that began in 1971 is continued today by scientists from the Center for Whale Research. They photograph each orca in what are called the Southern Resident pods, follow them in the field, take blubber samples, collect their scat, and perform extensive lab analyses of their data. This attractively illustrated title introduces these family-loving mammals, often misnamed “killer whales.” The Southern Residents are fish eaters; their usual prey are salmon, whose populations are also shrinking. Joining researchers in a small boat, the author observes a mother teaching her calf to fish. She describes another series of studies proving that sounds made by boats stress the orcas. She demonstrates the use of dogs trained to find whale scat and the use of a camera-equipped drone to photograph the pods without disturbing them. Between six longer chapters are shorter sections of whale facts as well as descriptions of the Samish Nation orca-naming ceremony, orca food around the world, a captive whale in Florida, and a Chinook salmon’s migration; there are also suggestions for reader involvement. The exposition here is less immediate than in some other entries in this long-running series, the narrative arc hard to follow, and the maps unclear, but the story is important.

Fans of these popular marine mammals will be intrigued. (glossary, selected bibliography and sources, acknowledgements and author’s note, photo credits, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-89826-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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An interesting, engaging collection of snapshot profiles that will encourage readers to explore further and perhaps pursue...



With STEM now the hot trend in education and concerted efforts to encourage girls to explore scientific fields, this collective biography is most timely.

Swaby offers 33 brief profiles of some of the world’s most influential women in science, organized in loose groupings: technology and innovation, earth and stars, health and medicine, and biology. Some of the figures, such as Mary Anning, Rachel Carson, Florence Nightingale, Sally Ride, and Marie Tharp, have been written about for young readers, but most have not. Among the lesser known are Stephanie Kwolek, the American chemist who invented Kevlar; Yvonne Brill, the Canadian engineer who invented a thruster used in satellites; Elsie Widdowson, the British nutritionist who demonstrated how important fluid and salt are for the body to properly function; and Italian neuroembryologist Rita Levi-Montalcini, who made breakthrough discoveries in nerve-cell growth. Swaby emphasizes that most of these scientists had to overcome great obstacles before achieving their successes and receiving recognition due to gender-based discrimination. She also notes that people are not born brilliant scientists and that it’s through repeated observation, experimentation, and testing of ideas that important discoveries are made.

An interesting, engaging collection of snapshot profiles that will encourage readers to explore further and perhaps pursue their own scientific curiosities. (source notes, bibliography) (Collective biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-55396-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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From the Big Ideas That Changed the World series , Vol. 3

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762) narrates this entry in the Big Ideas That Changed the World series, presenting the story of the development of vaccines.

Lady Mary, an intelligent, lovely White Englishwoman, was infected with smallpox in 1715. The disease left her scarred and possibly contributed to the failure of her marriage, but not before she moved with her husband to the Ottoman Empire and learned there of what came to be called variolation. Inoculating people with an attenuated (hopefully) version of smallpox to cause a mild but immunity-producing spell of the disease was practiced by the Ottomans but remained rare in England until Lady Mary, using her own children, popularized the practice during an epidemic. This graphic novel is illustrated with engaging panels of artwork that broaden its appeal, effectively conveying aspects of the story that extend the enthralling narrative. Taking care to credit innovations in immunology outside of European borders, Brown moves through centuries of thoughtful scientific inquiry and experimentation to thoroughly explain the history of vaccines and their limitless value to the world but also delves into the discouraging story of the anti-vaccination movement. Concluding with information about the Covid-19 pandemic, the narrative easily makes the case that a vaccine for this disease fits quite naturally into eons of scientific progress. Thoroughly researched and fascinating, this effort concludes with outstanding backmatter for a rich, accurate examination of the critical role of vaccines.

Essential. (timeline, biographical notes, bibliography) (Graphic nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5001-4

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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