A serviceable early introduction.

HOW DO MOLECULES STAY TOGETHER?

From the How Do series

The basics of chemistry are presented in a Q-and-A picture-book format for elementary-age readers.

After a busy introductory spread explaining that chemistry is “all around us,” the text dives right into questions: “Why do atoms seem invisible? Are they just really good at playing hide-and-seek?” On the following spread, the answer—“Hide-and-seek?!?! No way!”—is followed by two substantial paragraphs about atoms as the building blocks of life, “like real-life connector blocks,” and the structure of atoms. This establishes a pattern in which silly questions are followed by lengthy answers; it goes on to describe how we tell different kinds of atoms apart, how molecules form, how positive and negative forces interact, how to recognize the three states of matter, and how chemical reactions work. Two final spreads use water and other common substances (such as coffee and ice cream) to illustrate how substances change states and instruct readers in how to read the periodic table of elements. The explanations throughout the book are uneven in clarity; the playful illustrations will entice some readers to return to the book until the concepts and vocabulary begin to sink in. Line drawings featuring diverse children and adults against graph-paper backgrounds present the information in multiple ways so that even readers who skip the text can glean some very basic ideas. A glossary, whose definitions may frustrate young readers with their dependence on other vocabulary words, rounds out the volume.

A serviceable early introduction. (Informational picture book. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4867-1790-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flowerpot Press

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both.

FLASH FACTS

Flash, Batman, and other characters from the DC Comics universe tackle supervillains and STEM-related topics and sometimes, both.

Credited to 20 writers and illustrators in various combinations, the 10 episodes invite readers to tag along as Mera and Aquaman visit oceanic zones from epipelagic to hadalpelagic; Supergirl helps a young scholar pick a science-project topic by taking her on a tour of the solar system; and Swamp Thing lends Poison Ivy a hand to describe how DNA works (later joining Swamp Kid to scuttle a climate-altering scheme by Arcane). In other episodes, various costumed creations explain the ins and outs of diverse large- and small-scale phenomena, including electricity, atomic structure, forensic techniques, 3-D printing, and the lactate threshold. Presumably on the supposition that the characters will be more familiar to readers than the science, the minilectures tend to start from simple basics, but the figures are mostly both redrawn to look more childlike than in the comics and identified only in passing. Drawing styles and page designs differ from chapter to chapter but not enough to interrupt overall visual unity and flow—and the cast is sufficiently diverse to include roles for superheroes (and villains) of color like Cyborg, Kid Flash, and the Latina Green Lantern, Jessica Cruz. Appended lists of websites and science-based YouTube channels, plus instructions for homespun activities related to each episode, point inspired STEM-winders toward further discoveries.

Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both. (Graphic nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77950-382-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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