Though it’s too bad the voices of the Nepalese scholars involved are not heard, overall, it’s a satisfying exploration.

SECRETS OF THE SKY CAVES

DANGER AND DISCOVERY ON NEPAL'S MUSTANG CLIFFS

Mountain climbers, scientists and scholars use their special skills to unearth the mysteries of a cave city in the Himalayas.

In a remote area of the world, mountain climbers scaling Mt. Everest come across an incredible man-made cave village hidden away in the mountain range. The cave dwellings, part of the former kingdom of Mustang (now part of Nepal), were once part of a thriving community. The climbers received permission from the Nepalese government to study the caves, and the team grew to include those with the skills to interpret the remains, artifacts and other findings. This volume describes the projects that answered many of the questions raised by the discovery of the caves and in doing so demonstrates the special qualities of each of the specialties involved—not the least of which is mountaineering. The author’s brother was one of the original climbers, lending authenticity to the account. The text, which provides a solid history of the region, is supplemented by many photographs of the explorers as well as the items from the excavation. There is rich backmatter: a roster of those involved, a timeline, source notes, glossary, selected bibliography, suggestions for further exploration, photo credits and an index.

Though it’s too bad the voices of the Nepalese scholars involved are not heard, overall, it’s a satisfying exploration. (Nonfiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4677-0016-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both.

FLASH FACTS

Flash, Batman, and other characters from the DC Comics universe tackle supervillains and STEM-related topics and sometimes, both.

Credited to 20 writers and illustrators in various combinations, the 10 episodes invite readers to tag along as Mera and Aquaman visit oceanic zones from epipelagic to hadalpelagic; Supergirl helps a young scholar pick a science-project topic by taking her on a tour of the solar system; and Swamp Thing lends Poison Ivy a hand to describe how DNA works (later joining Swamp Kid to scuttle a climate-altering scheme by Arcane). In other episodes, various costumed creations explain the ins and outs of diverse large- and small-scale phenomena, including electricity, atomic structure, forensic techniques, 3-D printing, and the lactate threshold. Presumably on the supposition that the characters will be more familiar to readers than the science, the minilectures tend to start from simple basics, but the figures are mostly both redrawn to look more childlike than in the comics and identified only in passing. Drawing styles and page designs differ from chapter to chapter but not enough to interrupt overall visual unity and flow—and the cast is sufficiently diverse to include roles for superheroes (and villains) of color like Cyborg, Kid Flash, and the Latina Green Lantern, Jessica Cruz. Appended lists of websites and science-based YouTube channels, plus instructions for homespun activities related to each episode, point inspired STEM-winders toward further discoveries.

Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both. (Graphic nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77950-382-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care.

OIL

In 1977, the oil carrier Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into a formerly pristine Alaskan ocean inlet, killing millions of birds, animals, and fish. Despite a cleanup, crude oil is still there.

The Winters foretold the destructive powers of the atomic bomb allusively in The Secret Project (2017), leaving the actuality to the backmatter. They make no such accommodations to young audiences in this disturbing book. From the dark front cover, on which oily blobs conceal a seabird, to the rescuer’s sad face on the back, the mother-son team emphasizes the disaster. A relatively easy-to-read and poetically heightened text introduces the situation. Oil is pumped from the Earth “all day long, all night long, / day after day, year after year” in “what had been unspoiled land, home to Native people // and thousands of caribou.” The scale of extraction is huge: There’s “a giant pipeline” leading to “enormous ships.” Then, crash. Rivers of oil gush out over three full-bleed wordless pages. Subsequent scenes show rocks, seabirds, and sea otters covered with oil. Finally, 30 years later, animals have returned to a cheerful scene. “But if you lift a rock… // oil / seeps / up.” For an adult reader, this is heartbreaking. How much more difficult might this be for an animal-loving child?

Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3077-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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