Straightforward, fascinating, broad-ranging, and timely; this effort will fully engage budding archaeologists.



Exploring six different archaeological explorations, Scandiffio sheds new light on intriguing puzzles from the past.

A variety of explorations is used to highlight the use of remarkable new techniques for revealing the secrets of the past: Ötzi the Iceman; the use of poison in hunting by African hunters and gatherers; the lost city of Angkor in Cambodia; the search for Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin’s lost ships, HMS Erebus and Terror; the unearthing of the grave of Richard III; and the discovery of Stone Age paintings in the French cave of Chauvet. Each new technique is carefully explained, from lidar (light detection and ranging), which reveals in remarkable detail the vast city of Angkor even though little remains of its mostly wooden construction, to the combined use of mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography to detect traces of plant-based poisons on Egyptian arrowheads. Each chapter begins with a brief, fictional narrative that describes the origin of the object of archaeological interest. Annoyingly, these tales are generally undated, although a few pages later, each chapter includes a timeline that does offer a date for the original event. Helpful text boxes, numerous illustrations, and maps for each chapter extend the narrative, and very good backmatter contributes to the all-around solid presentation.

Straightforward, fascinating, broad-ranging, and timely; this effort will fully engage budding archaeologists. (maps, bibliography, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 10-16)

Pub Date: April 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77321-239-5

Page Count: 116

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Wordplay and wry wit put extra fun into a trove of fundamental knowledge.


With an amped-up sense of wonder, the Science Guy surveys the natural universe.

Starting from first principles like the scientific method, Nye and his co-author marvel at the “Amazing Machine” that is the human body then go on to talk up animals, plants, evolution, physics and chemistry, the quantum realm, geophysics, and climate change. They next venture out into the solar system and beyond. Along with tallying select aspects and discoveries in each chapter, the authors gather up “Massively Important” central concepts, send shoutouts to underrecognized women scientists like oceanographer Marie Tharp, and slip in directions for homespun experiments and demonstrations. They also challenge readers to ponder still-unsolved scientific posers and intersperse rousing quotes from working scientists about how exciting and wide open their respective fields are. If a few of those fields, like the fungal kingdom, get short shrift (one spare paragraph notwithstanding), readers are urged often enough to go look things up for themselves to kindle a compensatory habit. Aside from posed photos of Nye and a few more of children (mostly presenting as White) doing science-y things, the full-color graphic and photographic images not only reflect the overall “get this!” tone but consistently enrich the flow of facts and reflections. “Our universe is a strange and surprising place,” Nye writes. “Stay curious.” Words to live by.

Wordplay and wry wit put extra fun into a trove of fundamental knowledge. (contributors, art credits, selected bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4676-5

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Aug. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Absolutely stunning.



A journey through the world of all life on Earth.

Sure, it sounds like a lot—and it is. But by linking all of existence into “Earth’s tree of life”—a concept that borrows from genealogy—readers will find an accessible organization that breaks down the world of living beings into a clear and fascinating read. Starting with true bacteria, the organization moves through archaea (tiny microbes) to eukaryotes (plants, algae, fungi, and animals) and ends with infectious particles (with a note clarifying that scientists don’t agree about whether they are alive). Particularly noteworthy—if one aspect in this exceptional book could be said to be more successful than another—is the overall visual presentation. The graphics are clean, colorful, sophisticated, and eye-catching. Each double-page spread follows the same format: A clade (“a group of living things that share a common ancestor”) is highlighted and described. Common traits, where it fits in the tree of life, its scientific name, more unusual aspects of some members, as well as any benefits or detriments the clade may have to humankind (for example, many bacteria are used to develop medicines) are presented in an organized, easy-to-understand manner. Humans are given the same treatment as the rest of the living creatures, and from this, readers will understand we are just one life form out of billions, and our survival depends on the health of every other living thing.

Absolutely stunning. (resources, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 10-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-83866-536-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Phaidon

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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