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A creditable, earnest biography of a famed woman scientist.

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. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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1001 BEES

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

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 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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From the Everything Awesome About… series

A quick flight but a blast from first to last.

A charged-up roundup of astro-facts.

Having previously explored everything awesome about both dinosaurs (2019) and sharks (2020), Lowery now heads out along a well-traveled route, taking readers from the Big Bang through a planet-by-planet tour of the solar system and then through a selection of space-exploration highlights. The survey isn’t unique, but Lowery does pour on the gosh-wow by filling each hand-lettered, poster-style spread with emphatic colors and graphics. He also goes for the awesome in his selection of facts—so that readers get nothing about Newton’s laws of motion, for instance, but will come away knowing that just 65 years separate the Wright brothers’ flight and the first moon landing. They’ll also learn that space is silent but smells like burned steak (according to astronaut Chris Hadfield), that thanks to microgravity no one snores on the International Space Station, and that Buzz Aldrin was the first man on the moon…to use the bathroom. And, along with a set of forgettable space jokes (OK, one: “Why did the carnivore eat the shooting star?” “Because it was meteor”), the backmatter features drawing instructions for budding space artists and a short but choice reading list. Nods to Katherine Johnson and NASA’s other African American “computers” as well as astronomer Vera Rubin give women a solid presence in the otherwise male and largely White cast of humans. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A quick flight but a blast from first to last. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-35974-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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