Arigatou gozaimasu for entertaining enlightenment! (Nonfiction. 9-14)

NATURE'S NINJA

ANIMALS WITH SPECTACULAR SKILLS

“To find these animal ninja…you must know where to look.”

That sentence ends a two-page introduction that gives a simple history and definition of human practitioners of ninjutsu (“the art of the ninja”) and invites readers to learn about animals that exhibit similar, extraordinary “skills.” The pages that follow offer fascinating facts, appealing design, and eye-catching illustrations. Symbolic art that mimics universal directional signs is used to show nine different ninja skills of more than nine different animals. Bright ink over a dark background lists each skill in romanized Japanese, with a clear definition beneath it. Colorful, high-resolution photography captures such sights as the boiling-hot spray issuing from the bombardier beetle while equally colorful drawings are used to further illustrate the physical capabilities of geckos and collector urchins. (Readers might have an inkling about the fine hairs that allow geckos to stick to surfaces and perform remarkable releases, but who knew that the collector urchin, when threatened, sends out tiny triangular protuberances with their own sets of snapping jaws?!) The text, which is accessible without condescension, also includes information about methods for studying and documenting the animals’ amazing characteristics and the names of scientists and institutions associated with the studies. More than once, the text encourages emerging scientists by noting that this research is current and ongoing—and that the more scientists learn, the more there is to learn.

Arigatou gozaimasu for entertaining enlightenment! (Nonfiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-4241-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both.

FLASH FACTS

Flash, Batman, and other characters from the DC Comics universe tackle supervillains and STEM-related topics and sometimes, both.

Credited to 20 writers and illustrators in various combinations, the 10 episodes invite readers to tag along as Mera and Aquaman visit oceanic zones from epipelagic to hadalpelagic; Supergirl helps a young scholar pick a science-project topic by taking her on a tour of the solar system; and Swamp Thing lends Poison Ivy a hand to describe how DNA works (later joining Swamp Kid to scuttle a climate-altering scheme by Arcane). In other episodes, various costumed creations explain the ins and outs of diverse large- and small-scale phenomena, including electricity, atomic structure, forensic techniques, 3-D printing, and the lactate threshold. Presumably on the supposition that the characters will be more familiar to readers than the science, the minilectures tend to start from simple basics, but the figures are mostly both redrawn to look more childlike than in the comics and identified only in passing. Drawing styles and page designs differ from chapter to chapter but not enough to interrupt overall visual unity and flow—and the cast is sufficiently diverse to include roles for superheroes (and villains) of color like Cyborg, Kid Flash, and the Latina Green Lantern, Jessica Cruz. Appended lists of websites and science-based YouTube channels, plus instructions for homespun activities related to each episode, point inspired STEM-winders toward further discoveries.

Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both. (Graphic nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77950-382-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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A splendid volume for young adventurers.

SURVIVOR KID

A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO WILDERNESS SURVIVAL

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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