Inspiring, fascinating, and, like the millions of parts that had to function for the space program to succeed, practically...



“Someday, people are going to try to go back to the Moon, and they are going to find out how hard it really is,” reflected one of the men who had been deeply involved in America’s drive to land a man on the moon.

How right he was. Maurer begins his reads-like-fiction tale with the roots of the moon missions, World War II. Not only were many of the primary scientists, managers, and astronauts veterans of the war, but the technology needed for a successful moonshot also emerged then. The story is neatly broken down into the numerous steps (and missteps) along the way, each providing impetus for the next, that made up the effort to reach the moon by the seemingly almost unachievable goal of decade’s end that President John F. Kennedy set in 1961. By providing plenty of information about the parallel—but always a step or two ahead—Soviet space program, Maurer clearly contextualizes the U.S. effort against the simmering threat of the Cold War. Accurate, detailed, and thoroughly entertaining, this tale is an essential purchase at a time when some are questioning if the moon landings were a propaganda hoax. Numerous archival black-and-white photographs, meticulous endnotes, an extensive reference list, and a timeline round out this outstanding work.

Inspiring, fascinating, and, like the millions of parts that had to function for the space program to succeed, practically perfect. (Nonfiction. 10-adult)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62672-745-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Wordplay and wry wit put extra fun into a trove of fundamental knowledge.


With an amped-up sense of wonder, the Science Guy surveys the natural universe.

Starting from first principles like the scientific method, Nye and his co-author marvel at the “Amazing Machine” that is the human body then go on to talk up animals, plants, evolution, physics and chemistry, the quantum realm, geophysics, and climate change. They next venture out into the solar system and beyond. Along with tallying select aspects and discoveries in each chapter, the authors gather up “Massively Important” central concepts, send shoutouts to underrecognized women scientists like oceanographer Marie Tharp, and slip in directions for homespun experiments and demonstrations. They also challenge readers to ponder still-unsolved scientific posers and intersperse rousing quotes from working scientists about how exciting and wide open their respective fields are. If a few of those fields, like the fungal kingdom, get short shrift (one spare paragraph notwithstanding), readers are urged often enough to go look things up for themselves to kindle a compensatory habit. Aside from posed photos of Nye and a few more of children (mostly presenting as White) doing science-y things, the full-color graphic and photographic images not only reflect the overall “get this!” tone but consistently enrich the flow of facts and reflections. “Our universe is a strange and surprising place,” Nye writes. “Stay curious.” Words to live by.

Wordplay and wry wit put extra fun into a trove of fundamental knowledge. (contributors, art credits, selected bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4676-5

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Aug. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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The author of Cod (1997) successfully provides readers with a frightening look at the looming destruction of the oceans. Brief sections in graphic-novel format follow a young girl, Ailat, and her father over a couple of decades as the condition of the ocean grows increasingly dire, eventually an orange, slimy mess mostly occupied by jellyfish and leatherback turtles. At the end, Ailat’s young daughter doesn’t even know what the word fish means. This is juxtaposed against nonfiction chapters with topics including types of fishing equipment and the damage each causes, a history of the destruction of the cod and its consequences, the international politics of the fishing industry and the effects of pollution and global warming. The final chapter lists of some actions readers could take to attempt to reverse the damage: not eating certain types of fish, joining environmental groups, writing to government officials, picketing seafood stores that sell endangered fish, etc. Whenever an important point is to be made, font size increases dramatically, sometimes so that a single sentence fills a page—attention-getting but distractingly so. While it abounds with information, sadly, no sources are cited, undermining reliability. Additionally, there are no index and no recommended bibliography for further research, diminishing this effort’s value as a resource. Depressing and scary yet grimly entertaining. (Nonfiction/graphic-novel hybrid. 10 & up)

Pub Date: April 18, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7611-5607-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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