Kirkus Reviews QR Code


How to Look for Extra-Terrestrial Life

by Mark Brake & illustrated by Colin Jack & Geraint Ford

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7534-6885-2
Publisher: Kingfisher

A surprisingly thorough and accessible journey into the possibilities of life outside of planet Earth.

It must be a marketing strategy, for both the title and the cover of Brake’s book lead one to think this will be a jokester-ish foray into intergalactic bioweirdness. And the design—with its hot colors and snippets of text housed in tons of boxes and drawings of aliens with eyes on stalks or eyes like licorice Necco wafers—suggests whimsy or frivolity. But no, this is actually a fairly serious grounding in just what we understand it means to be alive—"life," after all, hasn’t exactly been nailed down—and what that means when contemplating life in the great beyond. The information comes in bite-sized nuggets that can’t go very deep, but it is arresting and runs between biology and astronomy. Each two-page topic tackles the importance of microbeasts or thoughts on the evolution of language or the composition of planets—some made of diamonds, others gas or rock or fire or ocean. There is a bit on the role of wobbly stars and the critical juncture of the Goldilocks Zone and the promising environment of red dwarfs. There is just a whole lot here on biology both terrestrial and astral, in language that is upbeat and concise and with artwork that is good fun.

Sharp extraterrestrial inquiry—and a lesson in not judging a book by its cover. (Nonfiction. 10-14)