An amazing science adventure well worth the trip.




From the Scientists in the Field series

Visit a nearly pristine world with an entomologist who’s studied this new island almost since its birth in 1963.

Burns describes field research on Surtsey, weaving the geological and ecological history of the island, raised from the ocean by volcanic eruption, into a fascinating account of scientists at work, with particular emphasis on the life’s work of Erling Ólaffson, who studies the island’s insects. The author was privileged to join him and eight other researchers in July 2015 for a five-day visit to this natural laboratory for watching the progression of life; this once-barren island is still open only to scientists. She’s chosen details that will particularly interest her readers: the mechanics of insect capture, discovery of new species, day-to-day life. The seven men and three women (Icelandic except for the American writer and a Polish botanist; all are white) came by helicopter, stayed in a hut built for researchers, used designated bathroom areas (No. 2 goes under rocks near the ocean to be washed away), and left nothing but wooden stakes marking research squares and new-to-island plants. Photographs by the writer and several team members, especially the entomologist who first visited Surtsey in 1970, include gorgeous scenery, the changing face of the island, team members, and close-ups of plants, animals, and even the lava itself to help readers picture this unique experience.

An amazing science adventure well worth the trip. (glossary, further information resources, source notes, bibliography, acknowledgements, photo credits, index) (Nonfiction. 10-16)

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-68723-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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An outstanding case study in how science is actually done: funny, nuanced, and perceptive.



How does a new, truly revolutionary idea become established scientific fact?

Lendler spins his account of how the awesome age and significance of fossils came to be understood into a grand yarn that begins 168 million years ago. He fast-forwards to 1676 and the first recorded fossil fragment of what was later named Megalosaurus and builds on the premise of “The Blind Men and the Elephant” to trace the ensuing, incremental accretion of stunning evidence over the next two centuries that the Earth is far older than the Bible seems to suggest and was once populated by creatures that no longer exist. It’s a story that abounds in smart, colorful characters including Mary Anning, Richard Owen (a brilliant scholar but “a horrible human being”), and Gideon Mantell, “a dude who really, really loved fossils.” Along the way the author fills readers in on coprolites (“the proof was in the pooing”), highlights the importance of recording discoveries, and explains how the tentative suggestion that certain fossils might have come from members of the “Lizard Tribe” morphed into the settled concept of “dinosaur.” Though he tells a Eurocentric tale, the author incorporates references to sexism and class preconceptions into his picture of scientific progress. Butzer’s illustrations add decorative and, sometimes, comical notes to sheaves of side notes, quotations, charts, maps, and period portraits and images.

An outstanding case study in how science is actually done: funny, nuanced, and perceptive. (bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 10-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2700-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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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