Best adapted for browsing but with some nutritious bits for students of paleontology or animal evolution in general.

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THIS CHICKEN IS A T-REX!

THE GREAT BIG BOOK OF ANIMAL EVOLUTION

A portrait gallery of extinct creatures, “scary, attractive, or a little bit bizarre to our eyes,” posed with modern relatives.

García Mora goes for outsized examples, from the titular T. Rex—looking positively dapper in a coat of neatly combed feathers as it towers over a pair of oblivious pullets—and the ancestral dragonfly Meganeura, “large as a seagull,” to giant sloths and armadillos. Rendered in muted, greenish-gold tones, the figures look properly massive but are actually rather small on the page, as plenty of space has been left for early cousin creatures, for scale-capturing views of modern descendants and silhouettes of human children, for close-ups of teeth, feet, or other physical features to show changes over time, and for quick but carefully accurate descriptive notes in tiny type. The gallery isn’t arranged in any particular order, coming to an abrupt end with group portraits of early sharks and other fish, but beyond the eye candy, it does offer examples of both adaptive radiation (species diverging into other species) and evolutionary convergence (different species acquiring similar characteristics) to enrich the basic notion of evolution as an ongoing process. There is no backmatter, making this a bit problematic as a nonfiction resource.

Best adapted for browsing but with some nutritious bits for students of paleontology or animal evolution in general. (Informational picture book. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-88-544-1197-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: White Star

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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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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