Cogent review of some landmark ideas, now seemingly obvious but once revolutionary.

READ REVIEW

CHARLES DARWIN'S ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES

An introduction for younger readers to the major ideas in a seminal work of science.

Radeva, a graphic designer with a background in molecular biology, uses a combination of simply phrased statements and short quotes to boil down Darwin’s main notions about variety among both wild and domesticated animals, the struggle for existence that drives the process of natural selection, the development of instinct and of complex organs over long spans of time, and the anatomical resemblances in seemingly disparate species that point to common ancestries. Studiously avoiding mention of religion (“For most of human history, many people believed that everything on the world was created all at once”), she sketches out the genesis of Darwin’s thesis with nods to Buffon and Lamarck, brings his theories up to the present with discussions of epigenetics and other recent evolutionary insights, then closes with rebuttals to select “Misconceptions” about Darwinism’s precepts. Opening and closing with dozens of labeled butterflies and other insects on the endpapers, the illustrations feature gatherings of naïve-style flora and (mostly) fauna, drawn in minimal but precise detail and lit with bright, clear colors. Human figures—beginning with Adam and Eve in leafy garb and ending, except for a few vignettes, with an evolutionary line leading up to the white-bearded scientist himself—default to white.

Cogent review of some landmark ideas, now seemingly obvious but once revolutionary. (author’s note, bibliography, glossary) (Informational picture book. 8-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9491-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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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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