Like its title, this is sure to be a scream.

THE SCREAMING HAIRY ARMADILLO

AND 76 OTHER ANIMALS WITH WILD, WACKY NAMES

Would a rose by any other name taste as delicious as a chocolate dip damselfish sounds?

The sparklemuffin peacock spider, the headless chicken monster, the fried egg jellyfish, and the bone-eating snot flower worm are just a few of the distinctively named creatures explored in this informative, fun, and funny look at animal names. Through the lens of how and why animal species get their names—whether funny, fierce, magical, delicious-sounding, or just plain weird—it highlights the features leading to these names while explaining the common and scientific naming process and exploring animal taxonomy. In catalog style, each featured animal’s description ties its defining features to its common name with illustrations and photos. Text sidebars include scientific name, habitat, and a particular fact for each creature. Knowing what will likely fascinate their audience, like yeti crabs eating the bacteria that grows on their hairlike spines or unicorn fish eating other animals’ poop (not as magical a behavior as the name sounds), the authors adopt an engaging and casual tone, filled with humor that matches the book’s focus, but never sacrifice information for a joke. Included are extension activities on how readers might go about discovering a new animal species, a name generator that could keep one busy for hours, and resources focused on conservation.

Like its title, this is sure to be a scream. (glossary, further reading) (Nonfiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5235-0811-2

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both.

FLASH FACTS

Flash, Batman, and other characters from the DC Comics universe tackle supervillains and STEM-related topics and sometimes, both.

Credited to 20 writers and illustrators in various combinations, the 10 episodes invite readers to tag along as Mera and Aquaman visit oceanic zones from epipelagic to hadalpelagic; Supergirl helps a young scholar pick a science-project topic by taking her on a tour of the solar system; and Swamp Thing lends Poison Ivy a hand to describe how DNA works (later joining Swamp Kid to scuttle a climate-altering scheme by Arcane). In other episodes, various costumed creations explain the ins and outs of diverse large- and small-scale phenomena, including electricity, atomic structure, forensic techniques, 3-D printing, and the lactate threshold. Presumably on the supposition that the characters will be more familiar to readers than the science, the minilectures tend to start from simple basics, but the figures are mostly both redrawn to look more childlike than in the comics and identified only in passing. Drawing styles and page designs differ from chapter to chapter but not enough to interrupt overall visual unity and flow—and the cast is sufficiently diverse to include roles for superheroes (and villains) of color like Cyborg, Kid Flash, and the Latina Green Lantern, Jessica Cruz. Appended lists of websites and science-based YouTube channels, plus instructions for homespun activities related to each episode, point inspired STEM-winders toward further discoveries.

Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both. (Graphic nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77950-382-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care.

OIL

In 1977, the oil carrier Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into a formerly pristine Alaskan ocean inlet, killing millions of birds, animals, and fish. Despite a cleanup, crude oil is still there.

The Winters foretold the destructive powers of the atomic bomb allusively in The Secret Project (2017), leaving the actuality to the backmatter. They make no such accommodations to young audiences in this disturbing book. From the dark front cover, on which oily blobs conceal a seabird, to the rescuer’s sad face on the back, the mother-son team emphasizes the disaster. A relatively easy-to-read and poetically heightened text introduces the situation. Oil is pumped from the Earth “all day long, all night long, / day after day, year after year” in “what had been unspoiled land, home to Native people // and thousands of caribou.” The scale of extraction is huge: There’s “a giant pipeline” leading to “enormous ships.” Then, crash. Rivers of oil gush out over three full-bleed wordless pages. Subsequent scenes show rocks, seabirds, and sea otters covered with oil. Finally, 30 years later, animals have returned to a cheerful scene. “But if you lift a rock… // oil / seeps / up.” For an adult reader, this is heartbreaking. How much more difficult might this be for an animal-loving child?

Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3077-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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