An eye-opening, and -widening, early introduction to our restless planet.



A look at the causes and effects of nine types of natural disasters, from tsunamis to wildfires.

Now and then, Jacobs writes, “the planet reminds us who’s boss.” Loosely grouped as “Geological” and “Meteorological” disasters, the tally of reminders begins with an overview of plate tectonics, then goes on to explain in short segments of narrative, first, how earthquakes are caused (with a side note on the role of fracking) and measured, then what to do if caught in one, common effects, and finally a map with notes on five particularly destructive recent examples. Each succeeding entry is constructed along similar lines. The author asserts in a final chapter that climate change will spur larger and more widespread natural disasters—including even earthquakes and volcanoes—and that we are facing “the biggest environmental challenge we have ever seen.” Williams makes a brave effort to lighten the impact of this worrisome message with brightly colored cartoon views of stylized, impersonal eruptions or wreckage and by interspersing her simple cutaways and diagrams with mildly comical cartoon images of various relevant gods from many traditions or modern (almost all white-presenting) figures cast in the role of observers, commentators, or responders rather than victims. Young readers will nonetheless be left as concerned as they are informed by this catalog of catastrophes.

An eye-opening, and -widening, early introduction to our restless planet. (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-908714-70-1

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Cicada Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)



Cusick floats a slick, select gallery of nature’s spitters, nose-pickers, oozers, and slimers—most but not all nonhuman—atop nourishing globs of scientific information.

Title notwithstanding, the book is limited just to mucus and saliva. Following introductory looks at the major components of each, Cusick describes their often similar uses in nature—in swallowing or expelling foreign matter, fighting disease, predation and defense, camouflage, travel, communication (“Aren’t you glad humans use words to communicate?”), home construction, nutrition, and more. All of this is presented in easily digestible observations placed among, and often referring to, color photos of slime-covered goby fish, a giraffe with its tongue up its nose, various drooling animals, including a white infant, and like photogenic subjects. Two simple experiments cater to hands-on types, but any readers who take delight in sentences like “Some fungus beetles eat snail slime mucus” come away both stimulated and informed.

What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63322-115-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Moondance/Quarto

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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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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