Though some of the individual animals might be found in other titles, bringing them all together as gliders here makes the...

READ REVIEW

CATCHING AIR

TAKING THE LEAP WITH GLIDING ANIMALS

From the How Nature Works series

Southeast Asian Draco lizards, North American flying squirrels, and Australian sugar gliders: what do they have in common?

They all glide—not fly—with the help of special flaps called patagia. With the help of many stock photos (of varying quality and focus) and some drawings and engravings, the mechanics of the gliding process are explained. The text is clear and speaks of the history of gliding animals from the 125 million–year-old fossils of “the earliest known mammalian glider, Volaticotherium antiquis” to “some astonishing new gliding animals… / …PEOPLE!” The author includes information about professionally created hang gliders and wingsuits and warns his young readers not to attempt to build their own. Leonardo da Vinci’s sepia-toned design for an ornithopter, a gliding machine, illustrates this spread opposite an exciting photo of a person in a red, white, and blue wingsuit. With the round series logo (How Nature Works) used as a design element alongside photos of different sizes and focus inserted in each double-page spread, the layout is sometimes too busy, but some photos are striking. The full-page photo of the Asian Wallace’s frog is a wonderful animal portrait, as is the Malaysian Draco lizard. Backmatter includes websites and a bibliography of adult books as well as a glossary.

Though some of the individual animals might be found in other titles, bringing them all together as gliders here makes the book worth a look. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-88448-496-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This middle-grade story of family, friendship and school has all the right elements, but it lacks an ignition spark.

RUBY GOLDBERG'S BRIGHT IDEA

A Rube Goldberg namesake discovers there’s more to life than inventions.

Fifth-grader Ruby Goldberg spends more time thinking about elaborate contraptions than about school or the people around her. Determined to win the gold medal that has eluded her in earlier science fairs, she focuses all her attention on the construction of her entry, ignoring her patient best friend’s needs and her grieving grandfather’s feelings. But there’s hope that, like the cartoonist and inventor she was named for, she can become a more well-rounded person. At her father’s suggestion, she collaborates with classmate Dominic, a former rival. Working together leads to friendship, and their intricate system for the delivery of a newspaper and slippers is, indeed, an engineering marvel—though she comes to understand it will never replace her grandfather’s dog. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite all come together, despite Ruby’s appropriately self-centered and sometimes-funny narration. By her own account, Ruby has been supercompetitive for years; her sudden behavior changes are therefore not quite credible. Ruby’s inventive mind is interesting, though the actual diagrammed workings of her Tomato-Matic 2000 are sadly opaque (thank goodness the narrative describes it).

This middle-grade story of family, friendship and school has all the right elements, but it lacks an ignition spark. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-8027-8

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A rare chance to shine for the former ninth planet.

PLUTO'S SECRET

AN ICY WORLD'S TALE OF DISCOVERY

Is it a planet? A dwarf planet? What’s up with that mysterious body that, even in our best telescopes, floats tantalizingly at the edge of visibility?

Pairing a lighthearted narrative in a hand-lettered–style typeface with informally drawn cartoon illustrations, this lively tale of astronomical revelations begins with the search for “Planet X.” It then sweeps past Pluto’s first sighting by Clyde Tombaugh and its naming by 11-year-old Venetia Burney to the later discovery of more icy worlds—both in our solar system’s Kuiper belt and orbiting other stars. Meanwhile, sailing along with a smug expression, the mottled orange planetoid is “busy dancing with its moons. / Cha-cha / Cha-cha-cha” and Kuiper buddies as it waits for Earth’s astronomers to realize at last that it’s different from the other planets (“BINGO!”) and needs a new classification. Ceres inexplicably rates no entry in the gallery of dwarf planets, and the closing glossary isn’t exactly stellar (“World: Any object in space”), but fans of Basher’s postmodern science surveys will feel right at home with the buoyant mix of personification and hard fact.

A rare chance to shine for the former ninth planet. (photos and additional detail, “Note from the Museum,” suggested reading, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0423-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more