Handy and lucid, this slim volume makes an important topic digestible.



From the Orca Footprints series

Young readers are introduced to non-native invasive species: what they are and how they are affecting ecosystems around the world.

This nonfiction science title contains four chapters, leading readers from an understanding of what an invasive species is and how it overtakes new areas, through how systems work and are affected by newcomers, then the complications involved in efforts to control the spread of invasive species, and finally to a look at how humans can work with the reality of environmental change. Each chapter is divided into short sections that provide bursts of useful information, and spreads are enhanced with small “eco-facts,” well-captioned photographs, and frequent half-page featurettes on “invasive all-stars”: specific species, such as domestic cats, that have changed regions with their rapid spread and notable environmental effects. Making sure to include humans as one of the Earth’s most dramatic invasive species and greatest vectors of spreading others, Wilcox places the topic in historical context, including the spread of diseases such as smallpox during settler colonialism and mentioning the roles of the Industrial Revolution and capitalism on the human population and use of natural resources. The choice to include a photo of a White woman with a “build the wall” sign to illustrate xenophobia rather than, for instance, those who rally for immigrants’ rights, may have the effect of distressing young targets of xenophobia. The reasonably short sections are clear and engaging, and the balance of hope against the potentially stressful subject leaves readers informed and energized rather than defeated.

Handy and lucid, this slim volume makes an important topic digestible. (resources, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2395-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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


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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The photos effectively convey the scope of Harvey’s impact, but while journalistically sound, this informative book doesn’t...



The devastation of 2017’s Hurricane Harvey is explained, from the storm’s origin to its ongoing aftermath, in this photo-heavy book.

In retelling the story of how a storm got so big it caused 82 deaths and billions of dollars in damage along the Texas coast, Minneapolis-based author Felix details the science of hurricanes for those unfamiliar and unpacks why this and a series of other hurricanes made for one of the most damaging weather years on record. Although it’s packed with info-boxes, a glossary, tips for safety during a hurricane and helping survivors afterward, a snapshot of five other historic hurricanes, and well-curated photos, it misses an opportunity to convey some of the emotion and pain victims endured and continue to feel. Instead, much of the text feels like a summation of news reports, an efficient attempt to answer the whys of Hurricane Harvey, with only a few direct quotations. Readers learn about Virgil Smith, a Dickinson, Texas, teen who rescued others from floodwaters with an air mattress, but the information is secondhand. The book does answer, clearly and concisely, questions a kid might have about a hurricane, such as what happens to animals at the zoo in such an emergency and how a tropical storm forms in the first place. A portion of the book’s proceeds are to be donated to the Texas Library Association’s Disaster Relief Fund.

The photos effectively convey the scope of Harvey’s impact, but while journalistically sound, this informative book doesn’t capture the fear and shock those who lived through the hurricane must have felt. (Nonfiction. 9-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2888-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2018

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