A brief but informative look at an extraordinary ecosystem.

AVATI

DISCOVERING ARCTIC ECOLOGY

An ecologist who lives and works in Earth’s far, far north describes the changing seasons in the part of the world the Inuit call Nunavut—“our land.”

Weaving together information about the land and water, plants and animals, Pelletier provides a clear depiction of an Arctic environment. Unlike some introductions to this part of the world, this account presents a full web of life. Her food chain begins with the tiny algae underneath the sea ice. From diatoms and amphipods to the fish, birds, insects and mammals that inhabit the land and the sea edges of this environment (avati in Inuit), she connects them to one another, to the plants of the brief summer and to the changing stages of ice. She doesn’t hesitate to introduce new vocabulary (defined in a concluding glossary), Inuit words (defined in context) and onomatopoetic sounds. What appear to be pencil-and-watercolor illustrations extend far across the gutters. Appropriately matched with the text, set in a column on the right-hand side of each spread, they reward careful inspection. Teachers and librarians may want to pair this useful title with A Walk on the Tundra, by Rebecca Hainnu and Anna Ziegler, illustrated by Qin Leng (2011) from the same Inuit publisher.

A brief but informative look at an extraordinary ecosystem. (Nonfiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: July 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-9270-9513-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Inhabit Media

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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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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Pretty but insubstantial.

THE BIG BOOK OF BIRDS

Zommer surveys various bird species from around the world in this oversized (almost 14 inches tall tall) volume.

While exuberantly presented, the information is not uniformly expressed from bird to bird, which in the best cases will lead readers to seek out additional information and in the worst cases will lead to frustration. For example, on spreads that feature multiple species, the birds are not labeled. This happens again later when the author presents facts about eggs: Readers learn about camouflaged eggs, but the specific eggs are not identified, making further study extremely difficult. Other facts are misleading: A spread on “city birds” informs readers that “peregrine falcons nest on skyscrapers in New York City”—but they also nest in other large cities. In a sexist note, a peahen is identified as “unlucky” because she “has drab brown feathers” instead of flashy ones like the peacock’s. Illustrations are colorful and mostly identifiable but stylized; Zommer depicts his birds with both eyes visible at all times, even when the bird is in profile. The primary audience for the book appears to be British, as some spreads focus on European birds over their North American counterparts, such as the mute swan versus the trumpeter swan and the European robin versus the American robin. The backmatter, a seven-word glossary and an index, doesn’t provide readers with much support.

Pretty but insubstantial. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-500-65151-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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