A fascinating account of an Indiana Jones–style fossil hunter and how his discoveries have changed the way we see human...

THE SKULL IN THE ROCK

HOW A SCIENTIST, A BOY, AND GOOGLE EARTH OPENED A NEW WINDOW ON HUMAN ORIGINS

When 9-year-old Matthew Berger found a fossil, he “opened a door two million years back in time.”

“Dad, I’ve found a fossil.” His father, noted paleoanthropologist Lee Berger, figured it was just the remains of ancient antelopes. But when he got closer, he knew this “was a gift from the past so precious almost nothing like it had ever been found,” part of a nearly complete skeleton of a new species, Australopithecus sediba, that has led to a new way of viewing human evolution. Aronson weaves the story of sediba’s discovery around a brief biography of Lee Berger, plaiting in enough background about paleoanthropology to provide context. He writes the story with vigor, but he’s not just writing about science, he’s urging young readers to learn from Dr. Berger: “to train your eyes, to walk the land, to learn to see the anomaly—to make the next key discovery.” Aronson emphasizes that the science is ever evolving and that more than the specific discovery, it’s the vision and the debate that are so important and fascinating. Matthew’s discovery was important in itself, but it also opened the door for new discoveries, and it’s the spirit of scientific inquiry that Aronson imparts here.

A fascinating account of an Indiana Jones–style fossil hunter and how his discoveries have changed the way we see human evolution. ("A New View of Evolution," further reading, glossary/index, author’s note) (Nonfiction. 10 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4263-1010-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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A remarkable biography.

THE RISE AND FALL OF CHARLES LINDBERGH

The story of a flawed, complicated man.

The son of a distant Minnesota congressman and a demanding, well-educated mother, young Charles Lindbergh grew up shuttling among the family farm, his grandfather’s Detroit home, and Washington, D.C. Intelligent but uninterested in school, he began flying at age 19, getting involved in barnstorming and becoming an Air Service Reserve Corps officer. He used a combination of mechanical aptitude and moxie to successfully cross the Atlantic in a 1927 solo nonstop flight and was instantly propelled into worldwide celebrity. Success came at tremendous cost, however, when his infant son was kidnapped and murdered. Lindbergh was also his own enemy: His infatuation with eugenics led him into overt racism, open admiration for Hitler, and public denunciation of Jews. Fallen from grace, he nonetheless flew 50 clandestine combat missions in the South Pacific. He became an advocate for animal conservation but also had three secret families in addition to his acknowledged one. Fleming (Eleanor Roosevelt's in My Garage!, 2018, etc.) expertly sources and clearly details a comprehensive picture of a well-known, controversial man. Her frequent use of diaries allows much of the story to come through in Charles’ and his wife Anne’s own words. The man who emerges is hateable, pitiable, and admirable all at the same time, and this volume measures up to the best Lindbergh biographies for any audience.

A remarkable biography. (bibliography, source notes, picture credits, index) (Biography. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-64654-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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From its enticing, dramatic cover to its brown endpapers to a comical Grant Wood–esque final image, this is a worthy...

THE GREAT AMERICAN DUST BOWL

A graphic-novel account of the science and history that first created and then, theoretically, destroyed the terrifying Dust Bowl storms that raged in the United States during the “dirty thirties.”

“A speck of dust is a tiny thing. Five of them could fit on the period at the end of this sentence.” This white-lettered opening is set against a roiling mass of dark clouds that spills from verso to recto as a cartoon farmer and scores of wildlife flee for their lives. The dialogue balloon for the farmer—“Oh my God! Here it comes!”—is the first of many quotations (most of them more informative) from transcripts of eyewitnesses. These factual accounts are interspersed with eloquently simple explanations of the geology of the Great Plains, the mistake of replacing bison with cattle and other lead-ups to the devastations of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. The comic-book–style characters create relief from the relentlessly grim stories of hardship and loss, set in frames appropriately backgrounded in grays and browns. Although readers learn of how the U.S. government finally intervened to help out, the text does not spare them from accounts of crippling droughts even in the current decade.

From its enticing, dramatic cover to its brown endpapers to a comical Grant Wood–esque final image, this is a worthy contribution to the nonfiction shelves. (bibliography, source notes, photographs) (Graphic nonfiction. 10 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-81550-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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