It’s a light once-over that really doesn’t do the complex topic justice, but it may spur young readers into taking care with...

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BIOMETRICS

YOUR BODY AND THE SCIENCE OF SECURITY

From fingerprints to voice, tongue, and even odor recognition, Birmingham explores the ways our identities are being linked to unique physical features or behaviors.

It’s a quick overview, with general looks at several types of established or experimental biometrics and briefer glances at a few more-speculative ones. For each of the former the author rates collection difficulty and (putative) level of security on a simple scale, then goes on to discuss in nontechnical language collection methods, current uses, and distinctive pros and cons. As food for thought, she does weigh the convenience of using biometrics rather than plastic or passwords as identification over such larger privacy and security issues as the proliferation of surveillance cameras in public places. This nuance is missing, however, with her closing, superficial observation that even if it’s “anyone’s guess” where the science of biometrics is headed, at least it shows that we’re all “unique through and through.” Turner’s small cartoon views of stylized high-tech gear and simplified (if diversely hued) human figures brighten the presentation without adding much of substance.

It’s a light once-over that really doesn’t do the complex topic justice, but it may spur young readers into taking care with their IDs and personal information. (index, source list) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77147-193-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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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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OIL SPILL!

DISASTER IN THE GULF OF MEXICO

The cleanup, finger pointing, litigation and economic recovery are still ongoing, but this overview of the Deepwater Horizon disaster offers a short and coherent account of the spill itself, the well’s eventual capping and, in broad strokes, the immediate environmental impact. Noting that the initial explosion occurred the very night of a ceremony commending the crew’s safety record (but not going into the long tally of construction shortcuts that made that ceremony so disingenuous), Landau provides a linear nonjudgmental account of major events between the April 20 eruption and the announcement of a permanent plug on Sep. 19, 2010. Big color photos add views of the platform burning, ships cleaning up oil slicks, oil-soaked wildlife and damaged coastal areas, along with smaller murky pictures of the failed blowout preventer on the ocean floor and the replacement cap. Additional graphics provide clear views of the technology—the rig itself, a cross-section of the blowout preventer and the relief well in relation to the original well—and a map of the Gulf coastline shows the affected areas. Limited, out of date and entirely based on secondary sources as it is, this still presents younger audiences a slightly more complete picture than Mona Chiang’s Oil Spill Disaster (2000). Includes eco-activities, resource lists and a tally of other major spills. (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7613-7485-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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