THE SCIENCE OF PHILIP PULLMAN’S HIS DARK MATERIALS

Bobbing along in the wake of Roger Highfield’s Science of Harry Potter (2002), this less-wide-ranging commentary uses select ideas and gadgets from Pullman’s epic as springboards for discussions of Newtonian and quantum physics, dark matter, magnetism, multiple universes, chaos theory and a few other topics on science’s frontiers. Though the Gribbins tuck in frequent references to the novels—pairing Schrödinger’s Cat to a nameless one in Subtle Knife, for instance—and even open each chapter with relevant passages, their focus is less on the stories, or on critiquing Pullman’s grasp of science (which turns out to be a pretty firm one, as Pullman himself points out in his introduction), than in showing how modern researchers are winkling out the universe’s “hidden truths,” a bit at a time. The authors’ implication of a link between the quantum “entanglement” of photons and Jung’s Collective Unconscious is a bit of a stretch, but the buoyant prose and coherent, non-technical explanations will keep readers on board for the entire trip. (Nonfiction. 12+)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2005

ISBN: 0-375-83144-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2005

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Best enjoyed by preexisting fans of the author.

CONTINUUM

From the Pocket Change Collective series

Deaf, trans artist Man meditates on his journey and identity in this brief memoir.

Growing up in conservative central Pennsylvania was tough for the 21-year-old Deaf, genderqueer, pansexual, and biracial (Chinese/White Jewish) author. He describes his gender and sexual identity, his experiences of racism and ableism, and his desire to use his visibility as a YouTube personality, model, and actor to help other young people like him. He is open and vulnerable throughout, even choosing to reveal his birth name. Man shares his experiences of becoming deaf as a small child and at times feeling ostracized from the Deaf community but not how he arrived at his current Deaf identity. His description of his gender-identity development occasionally slips into a well-worn pink-and-blue binary. The text is accompanied and transcended by the author’s own intriguing, expressionistic line drawings. However, Man ultimately falls short of truly insightful reflection or analysis, offering a mostly surface-level account of his life that will likely not be compelling to readers who are not already fans. While his visibility and success as someone whose life represents multiple marginalized identities are valuable in themselves, this heartfelt personal chronicle would have benefited from deeper introspection.

Best enjoyed by preexisting fans of the author. (Memoir. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-22348-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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Like many grammar books, this starts with parts of speech and goes on to sentence structure, punctuation, usage and style....

GRAMMAR GIRL PRESENTS THE ULTIMATE WRITING GUIDE FOR STUDENTS

As she does in previous volumes—Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing (2008) and The Grammar Devotional (2009)—Fogarty affects an earnest and upbeat tone to dissuade those who think a grammar book has to be “annoying, boring, and confusing” and takes on the role of “grammar guide, intent on demystifying grammar.”

Like many grammar books, this starts with parts of speech and goes on to sentence structure, punctuation, usage and style. Fogarty works hard to find amusing, even cheeky examples to illustrate the many faux pas she discusses: "Squiggly presumed that Grammar Girl would flinch when she saw the word misspelled as alot." Young readers may well look beyond the cheery tone and friendly cover, though, and find a 300+-page text that looks suspiciously schoolish and isn't really that different from the grammar texts they have known for years (and from which they have still not learned a lot of grammar). As William Strunk said in his introduction to the first edition of the little The Elements of Style, the most useful grammar guide concentrates attention “on a few essentials, the rules of usage and principles of composition most commonly violated.” After that, “Students profit most by individual instruction based on the problems of their own work.” By being exhaustive, Fogarty may well have created just the kind of volume she hoped to avoid.

Pub Date: July 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8943-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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