Darwin would approve.

READ REVIEW

DARWIN'S TREE OF LIFE

Both an introduction to Darwinian concepts and an exploration of the Earth’s life.

Even before explanations of natural selection and species origin, there is a helpful “Geological Time Chart” that explains eon, era, period, and epoch. Following these, double-page spreads show examples of animals, plants, and protists (which are neither) both extant and extinct on the branches of a tree that begins with one-celled organisms and moves into and beyond the category called “Skillful Mammals.” The illustrations and layout are spectacular. Stylized animals and plants are solid blocks of color against gradated blue backgrounds. Each spread is headed in sinuous display type; a vibrantly hued tree branch snakes across the page, creating spaces for flora and fauna and fascinating facts about them. Who knew that tardigrades can live for 30 years without eating? And how sly to note that both rats and humans have conquered the world with their generalized diets. The graceful, accessible text respects its readers. Early on, it asserts that “the first living things were simple cells, which were different from non-living things because they could make copies of themselves.” Words not defined within the text are captured in an appropriate glossary. There are several references to climate change, the first noting how green plants cooled the planet about 450 million years ago. The text strikes an excellent balance between upholding scientific research and noting its limits as well as its ongoing, self-correcting, nature.

Darwin would approve. (index) (Informational picture book. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62371-919-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Crocodile/Interlink

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

GET THE SCOOP ON ANIMAL SNOT, SPIT & SLIME!

FROM SNAKE VENOM TO FISH SLIME, 251 COOL FACTS ABOUT MUCUS, SALIVA & MORE

Cusick floats a slick, select gallery of nature’s spitters, nose-pickers, oozers, and slimers—most but not all nonhuman—atop nourishing globs of scientific information.

Title notwithstanding, the book is limited just to mucus and saliva. Following introductory looks at the major components of each, Cusick describes their often similar uses in nature—in swallowing or expelling foreign matter, fighting disease, predation and defense, camouflage, travel, communication (“Aren’t you glad humans use words to communicate?”), home construction, nutrition, and more. All of this is presented in easily digestible observations placed among, and often referring to, color photos of slime-covered goby fish, a giraffe with its tongue up its nose, various drooling animals, including a white infant, and like photogenic subjects. Two simple experiments cater to hands-on types, but any readers who take delight in sentences like “Some fungus beetles eat snail slime mucus” come away both stimulated and informed.

What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63322-115-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Moondance/Quarto

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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

HURRICANE HARVEY

DISASTER IN TEXAS AND BEYOND

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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