Terrific science for skeptics and hopeful sky watchers.

If we aren’t alone in the universe, then where is everybody?

McAnulty gives a shoutout to Fermi’s classic question, going on to examine the science and math that suggest—or refute—the possibility of life beyond Earth. With a brief roundup of facts as examples (the Earth is round, vaccines save lives), she is careful to demonstrate what is scientific consensus vs. speculation. The result is a compact but comprehensive overview of the history and current status of extraterrestrial exploration, whether via telescope, space probe, calculation, or imagination. McAnulty acknowledges the viewpoints of those (including astronomer Stephen Webb) who might be regarded as “Only Earth-ers” as well as those, whom she calls “Life Beyond Earth-ers,” who believe that life could be found elsewhere in the universe. She points out that a definitive answer is not currently available to us. The overviews of the history of astronomy (including the work of Copernicus, Galileo, and John Herschel) and space science and flight, focusing particularly on the later 19th century to the present, are clear and fascinating. Looks at Roswell, Area 51, and other unexplained encounters are included, contextualized with factual explanations and offered with a big grain of salt. The list of resources is very good, as are the meticulous source notes that offer ways for readers to further pursue the discussion. McAnulty’s informal, conversational style keeps the delivery of information entertaining and nicely paced.

Terrific science for skeptics and hopeful sky watchers. (timeline, acronyms, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9780759553996

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2023


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. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021


From the Giants of Science series

Hot on the heels of the well-received Leonardo da Vinci (2005) comes another agreeably chatty entry in the Giants of Science series. Here the pioneering physicist is revealed as undeniably brilliant, but also cantankerous, mean-spirited, paranoid and possibly depressive. Newton’s youth and annus mirabilis receive respectful treatment, the solitude enforced by family estrangement and then the plague seen as critical to the development of his thoughtful, methodical approach. His subsequent squabbles with the rest of the scientific community—he refrained from publishing one treatise until his rival was dead—further support the image of Newton as a scientific lone wolf. Krull’s colloquial treatment sketches Newton’s advances in clearly understandable terms without bogging the text down with detailed explanations. A final chapter on “His Impact” places him squarely in the pantheon of great thinkers, arguing that both his insistence on the scientific method and his theories of physics have informed all subsequent scientific thought. A bibliography, web site and index round out the volume; the lack of detail on the use of sources is regrettable in an otherwise solid offering for middle-grade students. (Biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-670-05921-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2006

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