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

The photos effectively convey the scope of Harvey’s impact, but while journalistically sound, this informative book doesn’t...

HURRICANE HARVEY

DISASTER IN TEXAS AND BEYOND

The devastation of 2017’s Hurricane Harvey is explained, from the storm’s origin to its ongoing aftermath, in this photo-heavy book.

In retelling the story of how a storm got so big it caused 82 deaths and billions of dollars in damage along the Texas coast, Minneapolis-based author Felix details the science of hurricanes for those unfamiliar and unpacks why this and a series of other hurricanes made for one of the most damaging weather years on record. Although it’s packed with info-boxes, a glossary, tips for safety during a hurricane and helping survivors afterward, a snapshot of five other historic hurricanes, and well-curated photos, it misses an opportunity to convey some of the emotion and pain victims endured and continue to feel. Instead, much of the text feels like a summation of news reports, an efficient attempt to answer the whys of Hurricane Harvey, with only a few direct quotations. Readers learn about Virgil Smith, a Dickinson, Texas, teen who rescued others from floodwaters with an air mattress, but the information is secondhand. The book does answer, clearly and concisely, questions a kid might have about a hurricane, such as what happens to animals at the zoo in such an emergency and how a tropical storm forms in the first place. A portion of the book’s proceeds are to be donated to the Texas Library Association’s Disaster Relief Fund.

The photos effectively convey the scope of Harvey’s impact, but while journalistically sound, this informative book doesn’t capture the fear and shock those who lived through the hurricane must have felt. (Nonfiction. 9-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2888-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This valiant attempt to storify and simplify a complex topic for elementary-aged children mostly succeeds.

PLASTIC

PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE

This Korean import explores a prevalent material in our daily lives.

Author Kim and illustrator Lee offer scenes to help kids digest the complex story of plastics. Plentiful illustrations describe production flows or act as seek-and-find challenges with examples of plastic objects around the home. For younger or emergent readers, many objects in the home scene are labeled to help build vocabulary or reinforce sight words. While the text explores some of the reasons plastic has become so enmeshed in our world, it does not fully confront the power of multinational oil companies or the international components of plastics recycling that evolve with each news cycle. However, refreshingly, plastics recycling is not presented as a catchall solution for single-use plastics. Readers are encouraged to reduce single-use plastic consumption, to learn about innovative solutions from scientists and activists, and to acknowledge that eliminating plastics use is unlikely. Illustrations of people throughout show varied skin tones consistent with the bold style used by the illustrator. The narrative format of the text, with three to five short paragraphs per page, and absence of table of contents, index, or cited backmatter make this more of a jumping-off point than a reference text. Open-ended questions throughout create natural breaks for discussion.

This valiant attempt to storify and simplify a complex topic for elementary-aged children mostly succeeds. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-950354-06-1

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Scribble

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more