This consciousness-raiser downplays the more frightening prospects in favor of a mildly cautionary message.

READ REVIEW

CHEMICAL WORLD

SCIENCE IN OUR DAILY LIVES

Simple explanations of what chemicals are and why some (but not all) deserve a bad rap.

Starting out with the observation that “everything on our planet is made of chemicals,” Rae first looks at her own morning routine. She invites readers to wonder along with her what all those ingredients in her shampoo and toothpaste are as well what the environmental costs of growing and processing her breakfast food, or throwing away that teabag and milk container, might be. She then goes on to explain some differences between natural and synthetic chemicals, with special references to plastic and DDT, and to trace the course of contaminants up the food chain. She briefly mentions disasters such as the Love Canal and Bhopal, along with more-insidious dangers like lead poisoning, before closing on a relatively upbeat note with general advice about “greener” practices and attitudes. Though her presentation is simple enough that the only formulas in sight are decorative elements in the margins, she does define significant terms like “chemical reaction” and also gives young eco-activists a leg up on the uses and dangers of classes of chemicals from parabens to PCBs. Family groups and smiling children of diverse nationality and ethnicity feature prominently in the cramped but colorful photos along with glimpses of idyllic natural scenes and wildlife.

This consciousness-raiser downplays the more frightening prospects in favor of a mildly cautionary message. (glossary, index, resources) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2157-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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

GET THE SCOOP ON ANIMAL SNOT, SPIT & SLIME!

FROM SNAKE VENOM TO FISH SLIME, 251 COOL FACTS ABOUT MUCUS, SALIVA & MORE

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...

HURRICANE HARVEY

DISASTER IN TEXAS AND BEYOND

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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