A creditable, earnest biography of a famed woman scientist.

THE STUFF BETWEEN THE STARS

HOW VERA RUBIN DISCOVERED MOST OF THE UNIVERSE

A star-struck girl becomes a renowned astronomer.

From childhood, Vera Rubin loved the stars, noting their movements from her bedroom window. Fascinated by the galaxies’ rotations, she was determined to become a scientist and became the only female astronomy major at Vassar College. Marriage and motherhood didn’t deter her from developing a solid career in teaching and research. Rubin earned her doctorate and, doing painstaking calculations, made major astronomical breakthroughs—that were dismissed at first due to the sexist assumptions of the male scientific community (depicted by Sicuro as almost uniformly White as well). Eventually, her ideas were accepted and respected. Working at the Palomar Observatory, Rubin made her seminal discovery that “dark matter” explains the phenomenon that stars at the edges of galaxies move as quickly as those at the center—and that it makes up most of the universe. This engaging biography will appeal to budding scientists, particularly those with a penchant for sky searching. Some of it may go over some students’ heads, though the author does a good job conveying concepts in a compact, uncomplicated manner. Rubin is White and portrayed as appealing, dedicated, and determined to make her way in a men’s-only world; she shows it’s cool being a highly intelligent, science-loving female. Several Rubin quotes are included, and a lovely Rubin epigraph concludes the book. Numerous delicate illustrations aptly feature dark blue, star-spangled, galactic backgrounds. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 48.6% of actual size.)

A creditable, earnest biography of a famed woman scientist. (author's note, timeline, notes, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3626-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans.

EVERYTHING AWESOME ABOUT SHARKS AND OTHER UNDERWATER CREATURES!

In the wake of Everything Awesome About Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Beasts! (2019), Lowery spins out likewise frothy arrays of facts and observations about sharks, whales, giant squid, and smaller but no less extreme (or at least extremely interesting) sea life.

He provides plenty of value-added features, from overviews of oceanic zones and environments to jokes, drawing instructions, and portrait galleries suitable for copying or review. While not one to pass up any opportunity to, for instance, characterize ambergris as “whale vomit perfume” or the clownfish’s protective coating as “snot armor,” he also systematically introduces members of each of the eight orders of sharks, devotes most of a page to the shark’s electroreceptive ampullae of Lorenzini, and even sheds light on the unobvious differences between jellyfish and the Portuguese man-of-war or the reason why the blue octopus is said to have “arms” rather than “tentacles.” He also argues persuasively that sharks have gotten a bad rap (claiming that more people are killed each year by…vending machines) and closes with pleas to be concerned about plastic waste, to get involved in conservation efforts, and (cannily) to get out and explore our planet because (quoting Jacques-Yves Cousteau) “People protect what they love.” Human figures, some with brown skin, pop up occasionally to comment in the saturated color illustrations. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 45% of actual size.)

An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans. (bibliography, list of organizations) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35973-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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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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