Riveting fodder for casual browsers and budding scientists alike.

WEIRD SCIENCE

MAD MARVELS FROM THE WAY-OUT WORLD

From “Zany Zoology” to “Medical Marvels & Mishaps,” the creators of Weird U.S. (2011) scout out wonders—mostly of the astonishing or gross-out sort—from scientific fields.

In haphazard order in each chapter but in enough detail that readers won’t feel as if they’re being barraged by unsubstantiated facts and factoids, Lake and Fairbanks report from “Weird Central” on a dizzying array of topics. These include naked mole rats and giant tube worms (their candidate for “Weirdest Animal Alive”), Mike the Headless Chicken, feuding inventors Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, Silly Putty, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge disaster, how to produce both static electricity and X-rays from Scotch tape, the strange fates of Einstein’s brain and Ted Williams’ head, and several dozen related diversions. Though written in a casual “hey, get this!” tone (“Spider senses aren’t all that. Moth and cricket senses are much cooler”), the entries are laced with such need-to-know information as the evaporation temperature of diamond, the common ingredients shared by air and chocolate, and the difference between “ligers” and “tigons.” Photos of the aforementioned head, the bacteria paintings of Alexander Fleming, crop circles, geysering soda bottles, two-headed animals and more add equally memorable visual notes.

Riveting fodder for casual browsers and budding scientists alike. (Nonfiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4027-6041-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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A coherent if unexceptional overview of the subject given a solid boost by the visuals.

EXPLORING SPACE

FROM GALILEO TO THE MARS ROVER AND BEYOND

Finely detailed cutaway views of spacecraft and satellites launch a broad account of space exploration’s past, present, and near future.

Jenkins begins with the journey of Voyager I, currently the “most distant man-made object ever,” then goes back to recap the history of astronomy, the space race, and the space-shuttle program. He goes on to survey major interplanetary probes and the proliferating swarm of near-Earth satellites, then closes with reflections on our current revived interest in visiting Mars and a brief mention of a proposed “space elevator.” This is all familiar territory, at least to well-read young skywatchers and would-be astronauts, and despite occasional wry observations (“For longer stays [in space], things to consider include staying fit and healthy, keeping clean, and not going insane”) it reads more like a digest than a vivid, ongoing story. Biesty’s eye for exact, precise detail is well in evidence in the illustrations, though, and if one spread of generic residents of the International Space Station is the only place his human figures aren’t all white and male, at least he offers riveting depictions of space gear and craft with every last scientific instrument and structural element visible and labeled.

A coherent if unexceptional overview of the subject given a solid boost by the visuals. (index, timeline, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: June 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8931-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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Enlightening, if not always easily legible, ruminations on the value of being in the dark.

DARK MATTERS

NATURE'S REACTION TO LIGHT POLLUTION

Reflections on the ways that artificial light upsets patterns and behaviors in the natural world.

Galat (Stories of the Aurora,2016, etc.) spins childhood memories into semifictive reminiscences. Between recalling lying on her back in the snow at 10 to trace the Big Dipper and describing links between light pollution and several environmental issues as a grown-up naturalist, the author recalls camping trips and other excursions at various ages. These offer, at least tangentially, insights into how artificial lighting could affect nocturnal insects, sea turtle hatchlings, bats, and migratory birds, as well as the general hunting, mating, and nesting behaviors of animals. She closes, after a quick mention of scotobiology (the study of life in darkness), with a plea to turn off the lights whenever possible. Though she does not support this general appeal with specific practices or, for that matter, source notes for her information, she does offer a list of internet search terms for readers who want to explore the topic further. Despite illustrations that range from a close-up of a road-kill raccoon to pointless filler and passages that, paradoxically, are hard to read except in bright light because they’re printed over speckled fields of stars, this outing covers a topic that should be of interest to young stargazers and scotobiologists alike.

Enlightening, if not always easily legible, ruminations on the value of being in the dark. (Nonfiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-88995-515-8

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Red Deer Press

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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