Geography, history, engineering, and trains—all in one elegant package.



What’s not to love about trains?

Thirteen scenic train routes from every corner of the globe are described in detail in this German import. Two or three two-page spreads are dedicated to each route, with retro-feeling illustrations in bold, flat colors showing the dramatic landscapes traveled by these trains together with some of the passengers and local wildlife. Each spread contains general descriptions of the route along with a mock ticket with key data about the length of the track, main stops, and starting date of operation. The chosen routes are tremendously varied, from the quaint Snowdon Mountain rack-and-pinion railway in Wales to the 5,772-mile-long Trans-Siberian Railway (“almost twice as wide as the United States!”). Effort has been made to inject diversity and historical interest into what could be just a book of statistics for train nerds. Each train route depicts passengers, often people of color; notably, a Black engineer on Norway and Sweden’s Arctic Circle freight train is treating her daughter to a ride. Local customs and cuisine are referenced, such as the springbok steak on the Namibia Desert Express and bento box lunches on Japan’s shinkansen, or bullet trains. There’s even haggis for dinner on the Caledonian Sleeper from London to Scotland. It’s a great reference tool for a middle school social studies project, although the tiny, light italicized type used for some captions is hard to read.

Geography, history, engineering, and trains—all in one elegant package. (map, glossary) (Nonfiction. 10-16)

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-3-89955-845-6

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Little Gestalten

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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An interesting, engaging collection of snapshot profiles that will encourage readers to explore further and perhaps pursue...



With STEM now the hot trend in education and concerted efforts to encourage girls to explore scientific fields, this collective biography is most timely.

Swaby offers 33 brief profiles of some of the world’s most influential women in science, organized in loose groupings: technology and innovation, earth and stars, health and medicine, and biology. Some of the figures, such as Mary Anning, Rachel Carson, Florence Nightingale, Sally Ride, and Marie Tharp, have been written about for young readers, but most have not. Among the lesser known are Stephanie Kwolek, the American chemist who invented Kevlar; Yvonne Brill, the Canadian engineer who invented a thruster used in satellites; Elsie Widdowson, the British nutritionist who demonstrated how important fluid and salt are for the body to properly function; and Italian neuroembryologist Rita Levi-Montalcini, who made breakthrough discoveries in nerve-cell growth. Swaby emphasizes that most of these scientists had to overcome great obstacles before achieving their successes and receiving recognition due to gender-based discrimination. She also notes that people are not born brilliant scientists and that it’s through repeated observation, experimentation, and testing of ideas that important discoveries are made.

An interesting, engaging collection of snapshot profiles that will encourage readers to explore further and perhaps pursue their own scientific curiosities. (source notes, bibliography) (Collective biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-55396-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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From the Big Ideas That Changed the World series , Vol. 3

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762) narrates this entry in the Big Ideas That Changed the World series, presenting the story of the development of vaccines.

Lady Mary, an intelligent, lovely White Englishwoman, was infected with smallpox in 1715. The disease left her scarred and possibly contributed to the failure of her marriage, but not before she moved with her husband to the Ottoman Empire and learned there of what came to be called variolation. Inoculating people with an attenuated (hopefully) version of smallpox to cause a mild but immunity-producing spell of the disease was practiced by the Ottomans but remained rare in England until Lady Mary, using her own children, popularized the practice during an epidemic. This graphic novel is illustrated with engaging panels of artwork that broaden its appeal, effectively conveying aspects of the story that extend the enthralling narrative. Taking care to credit innovations in immunology outside of European borders, Brown moves through centuries of thoughtful scientific inquiry and experimentation to thoroughly explain the history of vaccines and their limitless value to the world but also delves into the discouraging story of the anti-vaccination movement. Concluding with information about the Covid-19 pandemic, the narrative easily makes the case that a vaccine for this disease fits quite naturally into eons of scientific progress. Thoroughly researched and fascinating, this effort concludes with outstanding backmatter for a rich, accurate examination of the critical role of vaccines.

Essential. (timeline, biographical notes, bibliography) (Graphic nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5001-4

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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