DIGGING FOR BIRD DINOSAURS

AN EXPEDITION TO MADAGASCAR

Readers of this photographic essay join paleontologist Cathy Forster and a team of scientists hunting for bird-dinosaur fossils on the island of Madagascar, off the coast of Africa. The pictures and text show both the drudgery (chipping away at hard rock in 100-degree heat) and the thrill of discovery as the awl hits something hard that's buried underneath. Then the author, an outstanding photographer known for such titles as Red-Eyed Tree Frog (1999), describes how the scientist scrapes away the sandstone to reveal a tiny pink-brown fossil bone. Dinosaur lovers will not find the dramatic big bones of other field trips in this work, but middle school science enthusiasts will learn about “Scientists in the Field,” as the series title indicates. Photographs and text show the tools and painstaking processes by which scientists uncover, label, excavate, and prepare fossil finds for further study in laboratories and museums. Other sections provided detailed information about methods used to study and classify fossils in the university laboratory. Forster also gives biographical information, explaining her early love of dinosaurs and her current work as a paleontologist at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. A good look at a contemporary scientist. (list of further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-395-96056-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2000

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This middle-grade story of family, friendship and school has all the right elements, but it lacks an ignition spark.

RUBY GOLDBERG'S BRIGHT IDEA

A Rube Goldberg namesake discovers there’s more to life than inventions.

Fifth-grader Ruby Goldberg spends more time thinking about elaborate contraptions than about school or the people around her. Determined to win the gold medal that has eluded her in earlier science fairs, she focuses all her attention on the construction of her entry, ignoring her patient best friend’s needs and her grieving grandfather’s feelings. But there’s hope that, like the cartoonist and inventor she was named for, she can become a more well-rounded person. At her father’s suggestion, she collaborates with classmate Dominic, a former rival. Working together leads to friendship, and their intricate system for the delivery of a newspaper and slippers is, indeed, an engineering marvel—though she comes to understand it will never replace her grandfather’s dog. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite all come together, despite Ruby’s appropriately self-centered and sometimes-funny narration. By her own account, Ruby has been supercompetitive for years; her sudden behavior changes are therefore not quite credible. Ruby’s inventive mind is interesting, though the actual diagrammed workings of her Tomato-Matic 2000 are sadly opaque (thank goodness the narrative describes it).

This middle-grade story of family, friendship and school has all the right elements, but it lacks an ignition spark. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-8027-8

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

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ACCIDENTS MAY HAPPEN

FIFTY INVENTIONS DISCOVERED BY MISTAKE

In this entertaining companion volume to Mistakes that Worked (1994), Jones describes more of the often humorous incidents that resulted in inventions, products, and fashions. The telephone and photography are discussed as well as cellophane, Bakelite, Masonite, and dynamite. Another chapter offers speculation as to the origins of yeast, raisins, coffee, and vinegar, without much in the way of documentation, and a part of a chapter is devoted to the meanings of some nursery rhymes (it's never clear what they have to do with inventions). Nevertheless, this is entertaining reading, with whimsical black-and-white drawings, places to write for more information, a brief bibliography, and an index. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: June 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-385-32162-7

Page Count: 86

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1996

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