For middle schoolers, challenging science about a perennially appealing but surprisingly complex subject.

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THE TORNADO SCIENTIST

From the Scientists in the Field series

Research meteorologist and radar expert Robin Tanamachi, who once studied tornadoes by chasing them across Midwestern plains, now lies in wait for them in the hills and forests of America’s southeast.

Writer Carson (Inside Tornados, 2010) and photographer Uhlman document the veteran storm chaser’s work and her change of focus from storms in Tornado Alley (from the Dakotas down to Texas) to an area called Dixie Alley that stretches from Louisiana to Georgia and up to Tennessee and Alabama. Chapter by chapter, they introduce the scientist and the science, including the genesis of severe storms and tornado anatomy; explain the use of weather radar and other tools; recall the effects of a record-breaking number of highly destructive tornadoes in Tennessee and Alabama in 2011; show cooperating scientists gathered in Alabama to “set a tornado net”; and describe efforts to predict tornadoes further in advance and to ensure that people react appropriately to storm warnings. There is particular attention to Tanamachi’s work with radar and husband Dan Dawson’s measurement of the sizes and shapes of raindrops. Plenty of well-captioned photos (including pictures of disasters and of the scientist as a tornado-obsessed child) break up the exposition and will add to the appeal. Carson’s description of the fourth-generation Japanese-American scientist’s work is detailed and immediate; readers might well be able to imagine themselves in her shoes. (Dawson presents white.)

For middle schoolers, challenging science about a perennially appealing but surprisingly complex subject. (glossary, research suggestions, acknowledgements, sources and bibliography, photo credits, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-544-96582-9

Page Count: 80

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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An interesting, engaging collection of snapshot profiles that will encourage readers to explore further and perhaps pursue...

TRAILBLAZERS

33 WOMEN IN SCIENCE WHO CHANGED THE WORLD

With STEM now the hot trend in education and concerted efforts to encourage girls to explore scientific fields, this collective biography is most timely.

Swaby offers 33 brief profiles of some of the world’s most influential women in science, organized in loose groupings: technology and innovation, earth and stars, health and medicine, and biology. Some of the figures, such as Mary Anning, Rachel Carson, Florence Nightingale, Sally Ride, and Marie Tharp, have been written about for young readers, but most have not. Among the lesser known are Stephanie Kwolek, the American chemist who invented Kevlar; Yvonne Brill, the Canadian engineer who invented a thruster used in satellites; Elsie Widdowson, the British nutritionist who demonstrated how important fluid and salt are for the body to properly function; and Italian neuroembryologist Rita Levi-Montalcini, who made breakthrough discoveries in nerve-cell growth. Swaby emphasizes that most of these scientists had to overcome great obstacles before achieving their successes and receiving recognition due to gender-based discrimination. She also notes that people are not born brilliant scientists and that it’s through repeated observation, experimentation, and testing of ideas that important discoveries are made.

An interesting, engaging collection of snapshot profiles that will encourage readers to explore further and perhaps pursue their own scientific curiosities. (source notes, bibliography) (Collective biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-55396-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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A coherent if unexceptional overview of the subject given a solid boost by the visuals.

EXPLORING SPACE

FROM GALILEO TO THE MARS ROVER AND BEYOND

Finely detailed cutaway views of spacecraft and satellites launch a broad account of space exploration’s past, present, and near future.

Jenkins begins with the journey of Voyager I, currently the “most distant man-made object ever,” then goes back to recap the history of astronomy, the space race, and the space-shuttle program. He goes on to survey major interplanetary probes and the proliferating swarm of near-Earth satellites, then closes with reflections on our current revived interest in visiting Mars and a brief mention of a proposed “space elevator.” This is all familiar territory, at least to well-read young skywatchers and would-be astronauts, and despite occasional wry observations (“For longer stays [in space], things to consider include staying fit and healthy, keeping clean, and not going insane”) it reads more like a digest than a vivid, ongoing story. Biesty’s eye for exact, precise detail is well in evidence in the illustrations, though, and if one spread of generic residents of the International Space Station is the only place his human figures aren’t all white and male, at least he offers riveting depictions of space gear and craft with every last scientific instrument and structural element visible and labeled.

A coherent if unexceptional overview of the subject given a solid boost by the visuals. (index, timeline, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: June 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8931-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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