A fresh and accessible approach to an important scientific concept.

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ONE IGUANA, TWO IGUANAS

A STORY OF ACCIDENT, NATURAL SELECTION, AND EVOLUTION

From the How Nature Works series

The evolution of iguanas in the Galápagos provides a striking example of the workings of natural selection.

This entry in the How Nature Works series explains how scientists have determined that two surprisingly different species evolved from a single ancestor. Collard’s smoothly written text introduces two kinds of iguanas now living on these islands: a prickly pear–eating land iguana and a marine iguana that feeds on green algae underwater. He goes on to describe the volcanic origin of the archipelago and how plants and animals arrived. Drawing on well-grounded scientific conjecture (described in one of six informative sidebars), he then imagines the arrival of the first ctenosaur from Central America 8.25 million years ago and, after 3.75 million more years, the evolution of its algae-eating descendent. He introduces the theory of natural selection and, in another sidebar, explains how genes and their alleles contribute to individual differences. Returning to the continuing evolution of these two species, he shows how each has become perfectly adapted to its habitat. Finally he touches on other unique Galápagos inhabitants and the development of the theory of natural selection. A helpful map locates the Galápagos; images of its reptiles, birds, sea lions, and scenery will help readers picture the setting today. The attractive design makes good use of these well-reproduced photographs, some taken by the author.

A fresh and accessible approach to an important scientific concept. (glossary, suggestions for further research, author’s note) (Nonfiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-88448-649-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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The photos effectively convey the scope of Harvey’s impact, but while journalistically sound, this informative book doesn’t...

HURRICANE HARVEY

DISASTER IN TEXAS AND BEYOND

The devastation of 2017’s Hurricane Harvey is explained, from the storm’s origin to its ongoing aftermath, in this photo-heavy book.

In retelling the story of how a storm got so big it caused 82 deaths and billions of dollars in damage along the Texas coast, Minneapolis-based author Felix details the science of hurricanes for those unfamiliar and unpacks why this and a series of other hurricanes made for one of the most damaging weather years on record. Although it’s packed with info-boxes, a glossary, tips for safety during a hurricane and helping survivors afterward, a snapshot of five other historic hurricanes, and well-curated photos, it misses an opportunity to convey some of the emotion and pain victims endured and continue to feel. Instead, much of the text feels like a summation of news reports, an efficient attempt to answer the whys of Hurricane Harvey, with only a few direct quotations. Readers learn about Virgil Smith, a Dickinson, Texas, teen who rescued others from floodwaters with an air mattress, but the information is secondhand. The book does answer, clearly and concisely, questions a kid might have about a hurricane, such as what happens to animals at the zoo in such an emergency and how a tropical storm forms in the first place. A portion of the book’s proceeds are to be donated to the Texas Library Association’s Disaster Relief Fund.

The photos effectively convey the scope of Harvey’s impact, but while journalistically sound, this informative book doesn’t capture the fear and shock those who lived through the hurricane must have felt. (Nonfiction. 9-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2888-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2018

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A detail-rich picture book best for readers who enjoy nonfiction and are interested in history or science.

COUNTING THE STARS

THE STORY OF KATHERINE JOHNSON, NASA MATHEMATICIAN

This biography of renowned mathematician Katherine Johnson featuring illustrations by Colón aims for elementary-age readers.

Cline-Ransome (Finding Langston, 2018, etc.) traces Johnson’s love of math, curiosity about the world, and studiousness from her early entry to school through her help sending a man into space as a human computer at NASA. The text is detailed and lengthy, between one and four paragraphs of fairly small text on each spread. Many biographies of black achievers during segregation focus on society’s limits and the subject’s determination to reach beyond them. This book takes a subtler approach, mentioning segregation only once (at her new work assignment, “she ignored the stares and the COLORED GIRLS signs on the bathroom door and the segregated cafeteria”) and the glass ceiling for women twice in a factual tone as potential obstacles that did not stop Johnson. Her work is described in the context of the space race, which helps to clarify the importance of her role. Colón’s signature soft, textured illustrations evoke the time period and Johnson’s feeling of wonder about the world, expressed in the refrain, “Why? What? How?” The text moves slowly and demands a fairly high comprehension level (e.g., “it was the job of these women computers to double-check the engineers’ data, develop complex equations, and analyze the numbers”). An author’s note repeats much of the text, adding quotes from Johnson and more details about her more recent recognition.

A detail-rich picture book best for readers who enjoy nonfiction and are interested in history or science. (Picture book/biography. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0475-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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