An excellent introduction to a familiar scientific puzzle.




Scientists and citizen scientists investigate monarch butterflies.

The first question was where the butterflies went in the fall. After the discovery of their wintering colonies in the oyamel forests of Mexico, the question changed to why their numbers have dwindled. Scientists point to a number of possible causes: weather variations and climate change; habitat reduction; herbicide use that has reduced the population of milkweed, where monarchs lay eggs and their caterpillars feed, and other wildflowers, where adult butterflies feed during migration; widespread use of neonicotinoid pesticides; and the rise of a disease due to garden planting of a winter-blooming milkweed species that encourages the butterflies to overwinter in Southern states. Hirsch, a former biologist and graceful science writer, explains the monarch life cycle and its complex migration clearly, setting the stage for her exploration of the many mysteries that still surround the population’s ups and downs. She stresses the hopeful fact that monarchs can bounce back relatively quickly, because they lay so many eggs, and she offers realistic options for readers to participate in research and to encourage butterflies. Her clear explanation is attractively presented, illustrated with stock photographs of butterflies and some human researchers (of varying ages and ethnicities) as well as with occasional appropriate charts, all supported by extensive backmatter. Sadly, the index is skimpy, a disservice.

An excellent introduction to a familiar scientific puzzle. (author’s note, glossary, further reading, become a citizen scientist, plant a butterfly garden, source notes, selected bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5124-5250-1

Page Count: 60

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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A splendid volume for young adventurers.



Based on her work with middle-school students, Long offers lessons on how to stay healthy and out of trouble while awaiting rescue, the same lessons taught to adults in her survival classes.

Her matter-of-fact, no-nonsense tone will play well with young readers, and the clear writing style is appropriate to the content. The engaging guide covers everything from building shelters to avoiding pigs and javelinas. With subjects like kissing bugs, scorpions, snow blindness and “How going to the bathroom can attract bears and mountain lions,” the volume invites browsing as much as studying. The information offered is sometimes obvious: “If you find yourself facing an alligator, get away from it”; sometime humorous: Raccoons will “fight with your dog, steal all your food, then climb up a tree and call you bad names in raccoon language”; and sometimes not comforting: “When alligators attack on land, they usually make one grab at you; if they miss, you are usually safe.” But when survival is at stake, the more information the better, especially when leavened with some wit. An excellent bibliography will lead young readers to a host of fascinating websites, and 150 clipart-style line drawings complement the text.

A splendid volume for young adventurers. (index not seen) (Nonfiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-56976-708-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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



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

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