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Disarming title; crowd-pleasing content.

A hefty helping of need-to-know information, from gross nature facts to how tardigrades, tortoises, and toilets function in space.

A stable of science writers and illustrators set the tone by leading with pithy introductions to the blood-squirting horned lizard and the aptly named eastern skunk cabbage. The barrage of artfully selected, must-share revelations that follow will keep even casual browsers riveted. Though the book dishes up lots of customary morsels—yes, wombat poop is shaped like a cube, people are taller in the morning, and Marie Curie’s notebooks are still radioactive—it has plenty of lesser-known tidbits to tuck away, from how to unboil an egg to observations that the Earth’s mantle is green, Martian sunsets are blue, and the mountains in China’s Zhangye Danxia Geopark have rainbow stripes. The authors offer some historical insights as well, informing readers that Abe Lincoln was a licensed bartender, that “Roland the Farter” was a minstrel in the court of England’s Henry II, and that a corps of warrior women guarded the ancient kings of Dahomey (modern-day Benin). The cartoon art, done by different hands but in a consistent style, includes a racially diverse cast in current or period dress.

Disarming title; crowd-pleasing content. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 14, 2024

ISBN: 9781684493883

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Neon Squid/Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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Occasionally clever—fifth-grade boys will love it.

“There is a lot of nonsense written about the human body,” writes the author, “and this book is no exception.”

Though not quite making good on his promise of “100 percent fact-free chapters,” (he does accurately describe “chondrolaryngoplasty”) Griffiths’ anatomical tour in general steers clear of anything that would be marked as correct on a test. From “Ears can be big or small, depending on their size” to “Capillaries are the larval form of butterflies,” he offers pithy inanities about 68 mostly real body features. Though he closes every entry with “That is all you need to know about…,” he then goes on to regale readers with the news that the epiglottis was named after a Greek philosopher and other “Fun Body Facts.” Similarly, noting that his illustrations “may not be scientifically accurate” (the understatement of the decade), Denton nonetheless provides on nearly every spread profusely labeled, free-association cartoon views of each body part. These are filled out with tiny figures, mechanical apparatus and miscellaneous junk. Though serious young researchers may be disappointed to find the “Private Parts” pages blacked out, a full index follows to provide ready access to any references to poo, pus, farts, drool, “sneeze-powered missiles” and like essentials.

Occasionally clever—fifth-grade boys will love it. (Humor. 10-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-36790-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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Helpful guidance before a museum visit.

Famous artworks speak up.

In this art survey, Mona Lisa and 30 other masterpieces in Paris’ Louvre, among them the Venus de Milo, Johannes Vermeer’s The Lacemaker, and The Winged Victory of Samothrace—describe themselves (occasionally referencing Mona). A label accompanying a photo of each piece includes, besides the work’s title, year(s) of creation, and medium, the artist’s name (if known), their dates, their nationality, and a brief biographical blurb. The works, primarily paintings by White European men (though statues and sculptures can also be found here), depict mostly White figures, although works from ancient Egypt, Sumer, and Bukhara (in present-day Uzbekistan) are included. Some pieces display nudity. Following each work is an explanatory “monologue” presented by its character(s); as applicable, some figures chat among themselves. Using colloquial language, often laced with overly hip, snarky humor, the artworks dish on their histories, artists’ techniques (defining technical terms), and more. Blake’s quirky drawings embellish the text. An art book’s chief function is to invite readers to scrutinize artworks closely to better understand and appreciate them. This title accomplishes that task: These masterpieces assert themselves well overall, and examining them is both illuminating and fun. However, small details in some works may be tricky to spot. Additionally, though some featured works are among the world’s most celebrated, not all are equally child appealing. A short essay about the Louvre concludes the book.

Helpful guidance before a museum visit. (ways to think about art, timeline, glossary, list of artworks, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: June 6, 2023

ISBN: 9780500652749

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023

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