Jet-propelled—but a good introduction nevertheless.

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THE HISTORY OF PREHISTORY

A quick tour through our planet’s past, from the aptly named Hadean Eon to the invention of writing.

With a cheery reassurance that their facts are “bang up-to-date and checked by experts!” two young tour guides—one light skinned, one dark—begin by ushering readers past Earth’s fiery beginnings (“Monstrous volcanoes spew out lava”). The earliest signs of life and the age of dinosaurs give way to Australopithecus afarensis “Lucy,” Homo sapiens, the appearance of cave paintings 40,000 years ago, and so on to stone tools, farming, and, finally, 4,000-year-old hymns ascribed to the first identified author, a Sumerian priestess named En-hedu-anna. For all their claims, the veteran collaborators (Books! Books! Books!, 2017, etc.) do slip up occasionally, repeatedly noting for instance, that pterosaurs are flying reptiles and not dinosaurs but neglecting to explain the difference and by understating the currently theorized age of the oldest cave art by over 20,000 years. Still, in their cartoon illustrations they bring young time tourists face to face with now-vanished creatures, several types of prehuman ancestors, a (light-skinned, female) cave artist, and En-hedu-anna, dressed in elaborate regalia and digging away on a clay tablet. And, just for fun, a timeline designed as a board game at the end offers a painless review of the passing eras.

Jet-propelled—but a good introduction nevertheless. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-91095-976-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Otter-Barry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Together with its companions, too rushed to be first introductions but suitable as second ones.

MARIE CURIE AND RADIOACTIVITY

From the Graphic Science Biographies series

A highlights reel of the great scientist’s life and achievements, from clandestine early schooling to the founding of Warsaw’s Radium Institute.

In big sequential panels Bayarri dashes through Curie’s career, barely pausing at significant moments (“Mother! A letter just arrived. It’s from Sweden,” announces young Irène. “Oh, really?…They’re awarding me another Nobel!”) in a seeming rush to cover her youth, family life, discoveries, World War I work, and later achievements (with only a closing timeline noting her death, of “aplastic anemia”). Button-eyed but recognizable figures in the panels pour out lecture-ish dialogue. This is well stocked with names and scientific terms but offered with little or no context—characteristics shared by co-published profiles on Albert Einstein and the Theory of Relativity (“You and your thought experiments, Albert!” “We love it! The other day, Schrödinger thought up one about a cat”), Charles Darwin and the Theory of Evolution, and Isaac Newton and the Laws of Motion. Dark-skinned Tierra del Fuegans make appearances in Darwin, prompting the young naturalist to express his strong anti-slavery views; otherwise the cast is white throughout the series. Engagingly informal as the art and general tone of the narratives are, the books will likely find younger readers struggling to keep up, but kids already exposed to the names and at least some of the concepts will find these imports, translated from the Basque, helpful if, at times, dry overviews.

Together with its companions, too rushed to be first introductions but suitable as second ones. (glossary, index, resource list) (Graphic biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-7821-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Graphic Universe

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A sketchy teaser in search of an audience.

EDDIE THE ELECTRON MOVES OUT

From the Eddie the Electron series , Vol. 2

A subatomic narrator describes how helium, a nonrenewable resource, is formed deep underground.

The very simple cartoon style of the illustrations suggests a breezier ride than the scientifically challenging content delivers. With much reliance on explanatory endnotes, Rooney sends her zippy narrator—newly freed from a popped balloon (see Eddie the Electron, 2015)—barreling its way past billions of nitrogen and oxygen atoms to the top of the atmosphere. Eddie describes how uranium and thorium trapped in the newly formed planet’s crust self-destructed to leave helium as a stable byproduct. Billions of tedious years later (“I thought I would die of pair annihilation!”) that helium was extracted for a wide variety of industrial uses. Following mentions of Einstein and how Eddie is mysteriously connected to other atoms “in a way that surpasses space and time,” the popeyed purple particle floats off with a plea to cut down on the party balloons to conserve a rare element. Younger readers may find this last notion easier to latch onto than the previous dose of physics, which is seriously marred both by the vague allusions and by Eddie’s identification as a helium atom rather than the free electron that his portrayals in the art, not to mention his moniker, indicate.

A sketchy teaser in search of an audience. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-944995-14-0

Page Count: 27

Publisher: Amberjack Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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