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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A hopeful and helpful addition to any nature library.

FOLLOW THOSE ZEBRAS

SOLVING A MIGRATION MYSTERY

From the Sandra Markle's Science Discoveries series

Scientists solve the mystery of a disappearing zebra herd.

A herd of plains zebra regularly vanishes from the Chobe River flood plains in Namibia and Botswana during the dry season, but until Robin Naidoo and other scientists fitted some of these animals with GPS trackers, no one knew where they went or why. Markle (The Great Shark Rescue, 2019, etc.) ably describes the species, its habitat in the Serengeti Plain, the phenomenon of migration, the science research, and its surprising results: a “record-holding zebra migration” to the grasses in Botswana’s Nxai Pan National Park, which have extra nutrients for the mares and the foals they bear there. Her clear explanations are accompanied by well-chosen and informatively captioned photographs from a variety of sources. The lively design includes a striking zebra-coat background surrounding boxes with additional information and images. Maps help American readers locate this migration in southern Africa. One that includes the tracked migration routes of eight females demonstrates the astonishing directness of the 155-mile journey undertaken by seven (the meandering route taken by the eighth is unexplained). The author concludes with concerns about the possible effects of the changing climate and how conservation groups are planning to help the zebras so that they can continue to travel unimpeded and find water on their way.

A hopeful and helpful addition to any nature library. (author’s note, fast facts, glossary, source notes, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-3837-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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OIL SPILL!

DISASTER IN THE GULF OF MEXICO

The cleanup, finger pointing, litigation and economic recovery are still ongoing, but this overview of the Deepwater Horizon disaster offers a short and coherent account of the spill itself, the well’s eventual capping and, in broad strokes, the immediate environmental impact. Noting that the initial explosion occurred the very night of a ceremony commending the crew’s safety record (but not going into the long tally of construction shortcuts that made that ceremony so disingenuous), Landau provides a linear nonjudgmental account of major events between the April 20 eruption and the announcement of a permanent plug on Sep. 19, 2010. Big color photos add views of the platform burning, ships cleaning up oil slicks, oil-soaked wildlife and damaged coastal areas, along with smaller murky pictures of the failed blowout preventer on the ocean floor and the replacement cap. Additional graphics provide clear views of the technology—the rig itself, a cross-section of the blowout preventer and the relief well in relation to the original well—and a map of the Gulf coastline shows the affected areas. Limited, out of date and entirely based on secondary sources as it is, this still presents younger audiences a slightly more complete picture than Mona Chiang’s Oil Spill Disaster (2000). Includes eco-activities, resource lists and a tally of other major spills. (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7613-7485-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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