A bare-bones introduction for readers without a pre-existing interest.

CYBER ATTACK

A quick history of hacking, from the “phone phreaks” of the 1960s to today’s attacks on commercial data stores large and small.

Drawing solely from previously published reports and documents, the authors paint an alarming picture (“The internet has become a cyber criminal playground”) as they trace the growth of increasingly sophisticated digital attacks on personal, corporate and government data systems. Though they rightly point out that many hackers, from early “phreaks” like Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak on, have been motivated more by the pleasures of creating software or high-tech gear (or, as they acknowledge in the case of Edward Snowden, idealism) than criminal intent, most of the incidents they describe involve theft or espionage. Noting that attacks can come from anywhere in the world and that malware can be secretly installed not just on computers, but on any number of gadgets, the authors project little hope of keeping our information safe from bad guys. Nor do they offer more than, at best, bare mention of firewalls, encryption, two-step verification, strong passwords and other protective countermeasures. Still, readers will at least come away more aware of the range of hazards, from phishing and ransomware to botnets and distributed denial of service, as well as the huge, rapidly increasing amounts of money and data shadowy entities are raking in.

A bare-bones introduction for readers without a pre-existing interest. (source notes, bibliography, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4677-2512-5

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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It’s a lot to take in at one sitting, but this anatomical extravaganza really gets to the heart of the matter. Not to...

HUMAN BODY THEATER

A theatrical introduction to human anatomy, as well-choreographed as it is informative.

In 11 “Acts” hosted con brio by a skeletal impresario (“Bring out the lungs!”), Wicks parades a revue of body systems across a curtained stage. It’s a full program, with a teeming supporting cast from Dopamine to Diaphragm, Golgi Body to Gastroenteritis joining more-familiar headliners. The presentation opens with a zoom down to the cellular and even molecular levels to lay foundations for later macro and micro views of digestion, infection, and disease. Following this, the five senses (only five), the “dance of the oxygen fairies,” allergic reactions, and other anatomical processes that make up each system’s major components, most sporting cheery emoji-style faces, expressively demonstrate their respective functions. The reproductive system’s named parts deliver a frank but visually discreet turn with descriptions of erections and fertilization but no direct depictions, and it stops with the onset of puberty. The performances are enhanced by labeled diagrams, pitches on relevant topics from the importance of immunization and proper nutrition to synonyms for “fart,” and lists of important words and further resources. A few miscues aside (no, the speed of sound is not invariant), it’s a grand show, with a logically placed intermission following a peek into the bladder and a literal “wrap” at the end as the emcee puts herself together from inside out.

It’s a lot to take in at one sitting, but this anatomical extravaganza really gets to the heart of the matter. Not to mention the guts, nerves, veins, bones…. (glossary, bibliography) (Graphic nonfiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62672-277-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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Cogent of topic, but for readability, it’s aptly titled.

RUNNING DRY

THE GLOBAL WATER CRISIS

In urgent tones, a call for action as climate change and continuing waste and pollution of available fresh water pose imminent threats to human health and agriculture.

Drawing from recently published reports and news stories, Kallen paints an alarming picture. Aquifers are being sucked dry by large-scale agriculture, lake levels are falling, and water sources above- and belowground are being polluted. Though he points to a few significant counterefforts—the Clean Water Act (1972) in the United States and local initiatives elsewhere, such as “rainwater harvesting” ponds in India and Kenya—these come off as spotty responses that are often hobbled by political and corporate foot-dragging. He also points to shrinking glaciers and snow packs (plus, for added gloom, superstorms like Sandy) as harbingers of climate change that will lead to widespread future disaster. Aside from occasional incidents or examples and rare if telling photos, though, this jeremiad is largely composed of generalities and big numbers—not a formula for motivating young readers. Nor does the author offer budding eco-activists much in the way of either hope or ways to become part of the solution; for the latter, at least, Cathryn Berger Kaye’s Going Blue: A Teens Guide to Saving Our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, & Wetlands (2010) is a better choice.

Cogent of topic, but for readability, it’s aptly titled. (source notes, multimedia resource lists, index) (Nonfiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4677-2646-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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