A serviceable early introduction.

READ REVIEW

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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A lighthearted, enjoyable introduction to a fascinating subject.

ROBOTS AND DRONES

PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE

From the Science Comics series

This latest entry in the graphic-nonfiction series Science Comics introduces readers to the history of robotics and explains what is and what is not a robot.

The conductor on this entertaining guided tour is a birdlike robot called Pouli, conceived by Greek mathematician Archytas and propelled by steam, the first machine to fly through the sky back in 350 B.C.E. Defining a robot as “a machine that senses something in its environment, makes a choice about what it senses, and performs an action in response,” Pouli explains how robots are everywhere, from the ocean floor and the surface of Mars to our kitchens. Robots do everything from make coffee and vacuum floors in our homes to defuse bombs and explore the interiors of volcanoes. Pouli offers a refresher on simple machines like levers and pulleys to demonstrate how those simple concepts became the building blocks for the complex machines we have today. Drones are treated as a subset of robotics rather than a separate technology. The narrative focuses on the positives robots and drones can accomplish and the human component of computer programming. Isaac Asimov, who formulated the Three Laws of Robotics, is also recognized. Chabot’s clean, full-color panels shift between illustrated anecdotes and often humorous diagrams to convey the information, and they are populated by racially and culturally diverse figures both historical and fictional. An unfortunate oversight is the lack of suggestions for further reading.

A lighthearted, enjoyable introduction to a fascinating subject. (glossary) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-793-9

Page Count: 130

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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A detail-rich picture book best for readers who enjoy nonfiction and are interested in history or science.

COUNTING THE STARS

THE STORY OF KATHERINE JOHNSON, NASA MATHEMATICIAN

This biography of renowned mathematician Katherine Johnson featuring illustrations by Colón aims for elementary-age readers.

Cline-Ransome (Finding Langston, 2018, etc.) traces Johnson’s love of math, curiosity about the world, and studiousness from her early entry to school through her help sending a man into space as a human computer at NASA. The text is detailed and lengthy, between one and four paragraphs of fairly small text on each spread. Many biographies of black achievers during segregation focus on society’s limits and the subject’s determination to reach beyond them. This book takes a subtler approach, mentioning segregation only once (at her new work assignment, “she ignored the stares and the COLORED GIRLS signs on the bathroom door and the segregated cafeteria”) and the glass ceiling for women twice in a factual tone as potential obstacles that did not stop Johnson. Her work is described in the context of the space race, which helps to clarify the importance of her role. Colón’s signature soft, textured illustrations evoke the time period and Johnson’s feeling of wonder about the world, expressed in the refrain, “Why? What? How?” The text moves slowly and demands a fairly high comprehension level (e.g., “it was the job of these women computers to double-check the engineers’ data, develop complex equations, and analyze the numbers”). An author’s note repeats much of the text, adding quotes from Johnson and more details about her more recent recognition.

A detail-rich picture book best for readers who enjoy nonfiction and are interested in history or science. (Picture book/biography. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0475-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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