An engaging mixture of history and science.



Sometimes ordinary people stumble onto something big.

Usually, Albee says, archaeology—the study of human history through artifacts—involves slow, methodical, exacting research. Here she recounts 17 instances of major, history-changing discoveries that happened entirely by accident, from the 1709 discovery of Italy’s Herculaneum by workers digging a well to Johannesburg cavers coming across a trove of early hominoid remains in 2013. Many of them—the Lascaux cave paintings, the Dead Sea Scrolls, China’s terra-cotta warriors—will be familiar to adult readers. Others—a first-century B.C.E. mechanical model of the Greek universe, considered the world’s first computer, found in 1900 by Aegean sponge fishermen—are less well known. Albee describes each discovery, backs up to place it into historical context, and then moves forward to explain why each matters, writing throughout in clear, engaging, present-tense language. She points out the social inequities and ethical considerations that are part of the broader context of many discoveries: for example, how Black cowboy George McJunkin’s 1908 discovery of extinct giant bison fossils, something that upended our understanding of human history in North America, was ignored for years because of his race and class; and why plundered and formerly colonized Egypt wants the Rosetta Stone back. She closes with speculation regarding the burial place of Genghis Khan, a fine reminder that more hidden discoveries await.

An engaging mixture of history and science. (glossary, author’s note, selected bibliography, source notes, further reading, photo credits) (Nonfiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57578-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic Nonfiction

Review Posted Online: Aug. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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