Convincing evidence that readers, too, might become scientists.

WHO IS A SCIENTIST?

Profiles of a diverse selection of 14 21st-century scientists reveal a wide range of specialties and avocations.

To answer her title question, Gehl introduces working scientists, spread by spread, with a relatively simple text and two photographs—one at work and one at play. From meteorologist to agroecologist to software engineer, from laboratory to desert to forest, her examples represent a variety of occupational fields and workplaces. Their hobbies—painting, cooking, surfing, playing basketball or soccer, listening to live music, and so forth—are equally varied. The photographs also reflect the world’s diversity: There’s a White woman with magenta hair and colorfully tattooed arms, a Black belly dancer in classic costume, a Puerto Rican champion of Indigenous food systems, and a White man who uses forearm crutches to get about in the field. A neuroscientist wears a Sikh turban; an astronomer, a headscarf. As might be expected with such a range, some readers may find some scientists’ names challenging to pronounce, but the backmatter includes a phonetic guide to every single name—even the neuroscientist author’s. A final spread summarizes what scientists do and invites readers to imagine themselves among this group. Both selection of information and presentation have been thoughtfully designed to appeal to young readers. This will be useful in many a second or third grade classroom, and the publisher has made a teaching guide and video available.

Convincing evidence that readers, too, might become scientists. (Nonfiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5415-9799-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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It’s nothing new in territory or angle, but it’s still a serviceable survey with reasonably durable moving parts.

THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF PLANET EARTH

Flaps, pull tabs, and pop-ups large and small enhance views of our planet’s inside, outside, atmosphere, biosphere, and geophysics.

It’s a hefty, high-speed tour through Earth’s features, climates, and natural resources, with compressed surveys of special topics on multileveled flaps and a spread on the history of life that is extended by a double-foldout wing. But even when teeming with small images of land forms, wildlife, or diverse groups of children and adults, Balicevic’s bright cartoon illustrations look relatively uncrowded. Although the quality of the paper engineering is uneven, the special effects add dramatic set pieces: Readers need to hold in place a humongous column of cumulonimbus clouds for it to reach its full extension; a volcano erupts in a gratifyingly large scale; and, on the plate-tectonics spread, a pull tab gives readers the opportunity to run the Indian Plate into the Eurasian one and see the Himalayas bulge up. A final spread showing resources, mostly renewable ones, being tapped ends with an appeal to protect “our only home.” All in all, it’s a likely alternative to Dougal Jerram’s Utterly Amazing Earth, illustrated by Dan Crisp and Molly Lattin (2017), being broader in scope and a bit more generous in its level of detail.

It’s nothing new in territory or angle, but it’s still a serviceable survey with reasonably durable moving parts. (Informational novelty. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 979-1-02760-562-0

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Science at its best: informative and gross.

DO NOT LICK THIS BOOK

Why not? Because “IT’S FULL OF GERMS.”

Of course, Ben-Barak rightly notes, so is everything else—from your socks to the top of Mount Everest. Just to demonstrate, he invites readers to undertake an exploratory adventure (only partly imaginary): First touch a certain seemingly blank spot on the page to pick up a microbe named Min, then in turn touch teeth, shirt, and navel to pick up Rae, Dennis, and Jake. In the process, readers watch crews of other microbes digging cavities (“Hey kid, brush your teeth less”), spreading “lovely filth,” and chowing down on huge rafts of dead skin. For the illustrations, Frost places dialogue balloons and small googly-eyed cartoon blobs of diverse shape and color onto Rundgren’s photographs, taken using a scanning electron microscope, of the fantastically rugged surfaces of seemingly smooth paper, a tooth, textile fibers, and the jumbled crevasses in a belly button. The tour concludes with more formal introductions and profiles for Min and the others: E. coli, Streptococcus, Aspergillus niger, and Corynebacteria. “Where will you take Min tomorrow?” the author asks teasingly. Maybe the nearest bar of soap.

Science at its best: informative and gross. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17536-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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