An up-to-date excursion past the boundaries of Newtonian physics: “Crazy!” as the author aptly puts it.

A fresh look at some of the universe’s weirdest astronomical phenomena and the people who study them.

Observations in 2015 proved that black holes create gravitational waves when they collide—but, as Latta points out, that’s hardly the only string in their bows, because they also sing, dance, belch, and blow bubbles! Along with lucidly explaining the significance of said waves in our relativistic universe, the author describes how black holes are formed and how they behave, at least to our current understanding. She does this in such lively language that attentive readers will come away with firm grasps of a host of cosmically slippery notions, from the Chandrasekhar limit and the Schwarzschild radius to Fermi Bubbles and “spaghettification.” She also gives “major props” to the scientists who imagined and then actually found black holes, and she profiles five researchers (all white, but three are women) who are currently engaged in probing their secrets. The photos, graphics, and diagrams are small but sharp, clear, and helpful. The black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy, Sagittarius A* (pronounced “A-star”), headlines a closing gallery of “All-Star Black Holes,” and annotated lists of recommended reading and viewing provide deeper dives into the topic.

An up-to-date excursion past the boundaries of Newtonian physics: “Crazy!” as the author aptly puts it. (source notes, index) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5124-1568-1

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017



A serviceable introduction both to this CSI-related field and to the relevant human anatomy.

How does science work to identify corpses of the unknown?

Murray’s compact, textbook look at the basics of forensic anthropology provides comprehensible introductions to individually unique anatomical and physiological characteristics and to the timetable for the decay or decomposition of each. Eight “case files” are presented to provide a story to illustrate the techniques of post-mortem identification in practical contexts and to provide human interest to accompany the straightforward text. Unsurprisingly gruesome, each involves the discovery of a body (or in one, the separate limbs and severed head of a young woman) of an unknown person whose identification is challenged by decomposition. Three main chapters look at current forensic technology from the outside in—the first describes skin, hair, scars, tattoos, fingerprints and their reconstruction, while the second provides a look at how bones, teeth and implants provide structural identification. Murray describes the gold standard of identification—nuclear DNA profiling—in the last chapter with satisfyingly clear instruction in the essential features of forensic DNA. About 20 percent of the text is printed in white on a dark background, including all of the case-file narratives. File photos are used throughout to illustrate the points being made.

A serviceable introduction both to this CSI-related field and to the relevant human anatomy. (index, bibliography, sources for more information) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7613-6696-6

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012



Cogent of topic, but for readability, it’s aptly titled.

In urgent tones, a call for action as climate change and continuing waste and pollution of available fresh water pose imminent threats to human health and agriculture.

Drawing from recently published reports and news stories, Kallen paints an alarming picture. Aquifers are being sucked dry by large-scale agriculture, lake levels are falling, and water sources above- and belowground are being polluted. Though he points to a few significant counterefforts—the Clean Water Act (1972) in the United States and local initiatives elsewhere, such as “rainwater harvesting” ponds in India and Kenya—these come off as spotty responses that are often hobbled by political and corporate foot-dragging. He also points to shrinking glaciers and snow packs (plus, for added gloom, superstorms like Sandy) as harbingers of climate change that will lead to widespread future disaster. Aside from occasional incidents or examples and rare if telling photos, though, this jeremiad is largely composed of generalities and big numbers—not a formula for motivating young readers. Nor does the author offer budding eco-activists much in the way of either hope or ways to become part of the solution; for the latter, at least, Cathryn Berger Kaye’s Going Blue: A Teens Guide to Saving Our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, & Wetlands (2010) is a better choice.

Cogent of topic, but for readability, it’s aptly titled. (source notes, multimedia resource lists, index) (Nonfiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4677-2646-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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