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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. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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An authentic and moving time capsule of middle school angst, trauma, and joy.

Through the author’s own childhood diary entries, a seventh grader details her inner life before and after 9/11.

Alyssa’s diary entries start in September 2000, in the first week of her seventh grade year. She’s 11 and dealing with typical preteen concerns—popularity and anxiety about grades—along with other things more particular to her own life. She’s shuffling between Queens and Manhattan to share time between her divorced parents and struggling with thick facial hair and classmates who make her feel like she’s “not a whole person” due to her mixed White and Puerto Rican heritage. Alyssa is endlessly earnest and awkward as she works up the courage to talk to her crush, Alejandro; gushes about her dreams of becoming a shoe designer; and tries to solve her burgeoning unibrow problem. The diaries also have a darker side, as a sense of impending doom builds as the entries approach 9/11, especially because Alyssa’s father works in finance in the World Trade Center. As a number of the diary entries are taken directly from the author’s originals, they effortlessly capture the loud, confusing feelings middle school brings out. The artwork, in its muted but effective periwinkle tones, lends a satisfying layer to the diary’s accessible and delightful format.

An authentic and moving time capsule of middle school angst, trauma, and joy. (author's note) (Graphic memoir. 8-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-77427-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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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