Plenty of well-designed, smoothly integrated special features only enhance this passionate, provocative scientific manifesto.

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THE MAGIC OF REALITY

In a terrific example of e-bookmaking, animations, audio clips and interactive demos embellish the full text and already-memorable illustrations of this bestselling take on What Is So and What Ain’t.

In 12 chapters headed by questions from “Who was the first person?” and “Are we alone?” to “Why do bad things happen?” Dawkins (clearly no respecter of magical thinking or faith-based reality) opens with surveys of relevant myths or popular but mistaken beliefs. He then dismisses them to retrace in eminently readable prose the origins, characteristics and evolution of matter, life and language; explain the physical causes of seasons, rainbows and earthquakes; and look into chance and coincidence. His basic premise is that science guides us to a reality “more magical—in the best and most exciting sense of the word—than any myth or made-up mystery or miracle.” Small, brief gestures or changes of position further enliven art that, in a virtuosic variety of looks and styles, comments both informatively and wittily on the manually advanced narrative. Nearly every chapter contains a multimedia or interactive feature, such as a swiveling “Newton’s Cannon” that will fire cannonballs into orbit if correctly angled, brief audio remarks (or, in one case, a passage from Chaucer) by the author or a touch- and tilt-sensitive tour through the states of matter.

Plenty of well-designed, smoothly integrated special features only enhance this passionate, provocative scientific manifesto. (thumbnail-image chapter and page indexes) (iPad nonfiction app. 11 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Random House UK

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2011

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Poetic, immersive, hopeful.

OTHER WORDS FOR HOME

A story about war and displacement, resilience and adjustment.

Warga portrays with extraordinary talent the transformation of a family’s life before and after the war began in Syria. Living in a tourist town on the Syrian coastline, Jude experiences the inequalities in her society firsthand. With the unfolding of the Arab Spring, her older brother, Issa, wants to join protests against the Syrian regime. The parents are in favor of staying out of it, but with news of a new baby and nearby towns turning into battlegrounds, Jude and her mother travel to join her uncle, a medical doctor, and his family in the American Midwest. Her free-verse narration cuts straight to the bone: “Back home, / food was / rice / lamb / fish / hummus / pita bread / olives / feta cheese / za’atar with olive oil. / Here, / that food is / Middle Eastern Food. / Baguettes are French food. / Spaghetti is Italian food. / Pizza is both American and Italian, / depending on which restaurant you go to.” Jude, who has always loved American movies, shares her observations—often with humor—as she soaks everything in and learns this new culture. Only when she starts feeling comfortable with having two homes, one in Syria and one in the U.S., does a terrible incident make her confront the difficult realities of being Muslim and Arab in the U.S.

Poetic, immersive, hopeful. (Historical verse fiction. 11-adult)

Pub Date: May 28, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-274780-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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