Jet-propelled—but a good introduction nevertheless.

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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Just the ticket for mechanically curious kids.

MARVELOUS MACHINES

A MAGIC LENS BOOK

A detachable acetate eyepiece lets budding engineers peek into buildings, the inner workings of vehicles from bicycles to submarines, and even a human torso.

Peering through the colored spyglass embedded in the front cover at Lozano’s cartoon scenes makes large areas of red stippling or crosshatching disappear, revealing electrical wiring and other infrastructure in or under buildings, robots at work on an assembly line, the insides of a jet and a container ship, and other hidden areas or facilities. Though younger viewers will get general pictures of how, for instance, internal-combustion (but not electric) cars are propelled, what MRIs and ultrasound scans reveal, and the main steps in printing and binding books, overall the visual detail is radically simplified in Lozano’s assemblages of cartoon images. Likewise, the sheaves of descriptive captions are light on specifics—noting that airplane wings create lift but neglecting to explain just how, say, or why maglev train magnets are supercooled. Still, Wilsher introduces simple machines at the outset (five of the six, anyway), and the ensuing selection of complex ones is current enough to include a spy drone and Space X’s Falcon 9 rocket. Along with displaying a range of skin tones, the human cast of machine users visible in most scenes includes an astronomer wearing a hijab. All in all, it’s a revealing, if sketchy, roll toward David Macaulay’s The Way Things Work Now (2016).

Just the ticket for mechanically curious kids. (Informational novelty. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-912920-20-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: What on Earth Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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