These activities will get kids out and interacting with nature, but the science is disappointingly shallow.

HACK YOUR BACKYARD

DISCOVER A WORLD OF OUTSIDE FUN WITH SCIENCE BUDDIES

From the Science Buddies series

Some simple activities to get kids exploring the great outdoors in their own backyards.

Ahrens explains hacking your backyard as “Learn[ing] about nature’s processes by going outside and exploring the world around you. Find out how the natural world works with hands-on experiments.” An early spread gives some tips and safety info before any investigations begin. Then comes the fun: Eight activities have kids making a sewing-needle compass, telling the temperature by counting cricket chirps, exploring capillary action with carnations, testing ant deterrents, doing paper chromatography with fall leaves, discovering what habitats pill bugs like best, exploring the effect of light pollution on the night sky, and observing worms’ tunnels and behavior. Though Ahrens uses the term “experiments,” these are rather activities, as the scientific method is not explained or followed. At most, readers are asked to consider what they’ve observed, and the “Science Takeaway” boxes following each activity make this irrelevant, as they describe both what readers should have noticed (often with a photo) and the science behind the phenomenon. A couple of group photos show a diverse bunch of kids, though most of the activity pages show white children and white hands investigating. Up-close pics of insects are a big draw.

These activities will get kids out and interacting with nature, but the science is disappointingly shallow. (glossary, further information, index) (Nonfiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-3915-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lerner

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans.

EVERYTHING AWESOME ABOUT SHARKS AND OTHER UNDERWATER CREATURES!

From the Everything Awesome About… series

In the wake of Everything Awesome About Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Beasts! (2019), Lowery spins out likewise frothy arrays of facts and observations about sharks, whales, giant squid, and smaller but no less extreme (or at least extremely interesting) sea life.

He provides plenty of value-added features, from overviews of oceanic zones and environments to jokes, drawing instructions, and portrait galleries suitable for copying or review. While not one to pass up any opportunity to, for instance, characterize ambergris as “whale vomit perfume” or the clownfish’s protective coating as “snot armor,” he also systematically introduces members of each of the eight orders of sharks, devotes most of a page to the shark’s electroreceptive ampullae of Lorenzini, and even sheds light on the unobvious differences between jellyfish and the Portuguese man-of-war or the reason why the blue octopus is said to have “arms” rather than “tentacles.” He also argues persuasively that sharks have gotten a bad rap (claiming that more people are killed each year by…vending machines) and closes with pleas to be concerned about plastic waste, to get involved in conservation efforts, and (cannily) to get out and explore our planet because (quoting Jacques-Yves Cousteau) “People protect what they love.” Human figures, some with brown skin, pop up occasionally to comment in the saturated color illustrations. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 45% of actual size.)

An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans. (bibliography, list of organizations) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35973-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more