An effective introduction clearly designed and organized for its audience.

CLIMATE ACTION

WHAT HAPPENED AND WHAT WE CAN DO

A veteran science writer describes some of the environmental effects of our changing climate, introduces some teen activists, and offers suggestions and examples of what can be done.

Adept at distilling science topics of all kinds for young readers, Simon has been writing about the environment since 1972. He opens and closes this title with photos of and quotations from 15-year-old Greta Thunberg, who challenged the world at a U.N. Climate Change summit in 2019. After defining essential concepts—global warming, climate change, greenhouse effect, greenhouse gases—he describes specific consequences: heat waves, droughts, wildfires, deforestation, floods and other weather extremes, sea-level rise, ocean acidification, and wildlife destruction (especially bees). Simon’s presentation is distinguished by the leavening of each bit of bad news with examples of individual actions and steps that can be taken. He describes what scientists are doing to reduce the effects of drought, new methods for fighting wildfires, and what young readers can do to help save forests, water, and energy. The straightforward exposition is interspersed with images and quotations from teen activists from around the world and set on and among relevant and clearly captioned photographs and illustrations. There is nothing particularly new in this quick overview, but the author’s expertise at interpreting science topics for the age group will make it welcome. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 86.2% of actual size.)

An effective introduction clearly designed and organized for its audience. (glossary, reading list, photo and illustration credits, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-294331-6

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both.

FLASH FACTS

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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Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care.

OIL

In 1977, the oil carrier Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into a formerly pristine Alaskan ocean inlet, killing millions of birds, animals, and fish. Despite a cleanup, crude oil is still there.

The Winters foretold the destructive powers of the atomic bomb allusively in The Secret Project (2017), leaving the actuality to the backmatter. They make no such accommodations to young audiences in this disturbing book. From the dark front cover, on which oily blobs conceal a seabird, to the rescuer’s sad face on the back, the mother-son team emphasizes the disaster. A relatively easy-to-read and poetically heightened text introduces the situation. Oil is pumped from the Earth “all day long, all night long, / day after day, year after year” in “what had been unspoiled land, home to Native people // and thousands of caribou.” The scale of extraction is huge: There’s “a giant pipeline” leading to “enormous ships.” Then, crash. Rivers of oil gush out over three full-bleed wordless pages. Subsequent scenes show rocks, seabirds, and sea otters covered with oil. Finally, 30 years later, animals have returned to a cheerful scene. “But if you lift a rock… // oil / seeps / up.” For an adult reader, this is heartbreaking. How much more difficult might this be for an animal-loving child?

Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3077-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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