Not a story of salvation but a work in progress, ably explained.



From the Sandra Markle's Science Discoveries series

A highly endangered strain of grizzly bears, protected and supported by the Mongolian government in their Gobi Desert home, may slowly be coming back.

Markle clearly and efficiently introduces a bear unfamiliar to most North American readers, its equally unfamiliar environment, and an international effort to save a species. Her long experience in writing about science for young readers shows in the careful crafting and pacing of her exposition. She frames her narrative with an individual bear’s difficult choice: between feared humans and essential water. She provides the necessary background (including three helpful maps), describing the bears, their desert world, and the international team of Mongolian and Western researchers and citizens who have worked to preserve habitat and provide food. Thoughtful design helps readers track the exposition and identify the side topics. Well-chosen and -captioned photographs from a variety of sources show the bears, other native wildlife, researchers, local farmers and children, and even the “ninja miners” (as they’re known in Mongolia) whose illegal search for gold threatens the progress that’s been made to save a species uniquely adapted for this harsh environment. (There may be only 40 Gobi bears remaining.) The writer concludes with a quote from scientist Harry Reynolds (a White American researcher), who describes his work as “continuing to give the bears a chance,” and a single page reminding readers that “Polar Bears Need Help Too.” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.75-by-19.5-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Not a story of salvation but a work in progress, ably explained. (author's note, timeline, glossary, source notes, further information, index, photo acknowledgments) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-8125-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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


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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