Illuminating insights for nocturnal naturalists.

IN THE DARK

THE SCIENCE OF WHAT HAPPENS AT NIGHT

A quick survey picks out “wild and wonderful things that happen while you sleep.”

Betik opens in the bedroom, with explanations of circadian rhythms, REM and non-REM sleep cycles, and current theories about why we dream. She then ventures outside for looks at the eyes of cats, owls, and tarsiers; shows how certain creatures use tongues, whiskers, and other organs to compensate for the lack of light; and describes how plant metabolism changes when the sun goes down. Then it’s time to look up: at auroras and lunar phases; at planets and twinkling stars; at constellations, comets, and meteor showers. On every page, limited applications of color serve to illuminate the accurately rendered plants, animals, and astronomical phenomena in Holinaty’s squared-off panels and insets. His creatures are drawn in expressive poses, and human figures, though stylized, show a diverse range of skin hues. Readers may need to stretch to see the way plants allocate stored energy to get them through each night as “plant math,” but overall the author’s facts are straight as well as flashy enough to stick. Young STEM-winders may be more comfortable with this than Lena Sjöberg’s equally broad but more atmospheric Bright in the Night (2019). Specialized vocabulary is identified in boldface, spelled phonetically, and contextualized within the narrative, and a glossary in the backmatter pulls it all together for easy reference and review. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 56.5% of actual size.)

Illuminating insights for nocturnal naturalists. (sources, index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0109-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

GET THE SCOOP ON ANIMAL SNOT, SPIT & SLIME!

FROM SNAKE VENOM TO FISH SLIME, 251 COOL FACTS ABOUT MUCUS, SALIVA & MORE

Cusick floats a slick, select gallery of nature’s spitters, nose-pickers, oozers, and slimers—most but not all nonhuman—atop nourishing globs of scientific information.

Title notwithstanding, the book is limited just to mucus and saliva. Following introductory looks at the major components of each, Cusick describes their often similar uses in nature—in swallowing or expelling foreign matter, fighting disease, predation and defense, camouflage, travel, communication (“Aren’t you glad humans use words to communicate?”), home construction, nutrition, and more. All of this is presented in easily digestible observations placed among, and often referring to, color photos of slime-covered goby fish, a giraffe with its tongue up its nose, various drooling animals, including a white infant, and like photogenic subjects. Two simple experiments cater to hands-on types, but any readers who take delight in sentences like “Some fungus beetles eat snail slime mucus” come away both stimulated and informed.

What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63322-115-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Moondance/Quarto

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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The photos effectively convey the scope of Harvey’s impact, but while journalistically sound, this informative book doesn’t...

HURRICANE HARVEY

DISASTER IN TEXAS AND BEYOND

The devastation of 2017’s Hurricane Harvey is explained, from the storm’s origin to its ongoing aftermath, in this photo-heavy book.

In retelling the story of how a storm got so big it caused 82 deaths and billions of dollars in damage along the Texas coast, Minneapolis-based author Felix details the science of hurricanes for those unfamiliar and unpacks why this and a series of other hurricanes made for one of the most damaging weather years on record. Although it’s packed with info-boxes, a glossary, tips for safety during a hurricane and helping survivors afterward, a snapshot of five other historic hurricanes, and well-curated photos, it misses an opportunity to convey some of the emotion and pain victims endured and continue to feel. Instead, much of the text feels like a summation of news reports, an efficient attempt to answer the whys of Hurricane Harvey, with only a few direct quotations. Readers learn about Virgil Smith, a Dickinson, Texas, teen who rescued others from floodwaters with an air mattress, but the information is secondhand. The book does answer, clearly and concisely, questions a kid might have about a hurricane, such as what happens to animals at the zoo in such an emergency and how a tropical storm forms in the first place. A portion of the book’s proceeds are to be donated to the Texas Library Association’s Disaster Relief Fund.

The photos effectively convey the scope of Harvey’s impact, but while journalistically sound, this informative book doesn’t capture the fear and shock those who lived through the hurricane must have felt. (Nonfiction. 9-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2888-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2018

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