Outstanding photographs invite the reader into the world of microscopist Dennis Kunkel, a working scientist who studies plants and animals using lenses from the simple hand loupe, which magnifies an image up to ten times, to the sophisticated transmission electron microscope (TEM) that uses an electron beam and can magnify an object up to 1,000,000 times. As with other titles in the “Scientists in the Field” series, Kramer provides biographical information, quotes from the scientists, and a detailed explanation of field science techniques in a glossy photo-essay. He manages to capture the sense of wonder and excitement and the meticulous care taken by Kunkel as he observes plants and animals in the field and the laboratory. Photographs on every page show vividly colored specimens from minute dust mites, magnified 560 times to the neuroglial cell from an Asian tiger mosquito magnified 22,925 times. The title includes a careful explanation of the differences between types of microscopes, how materials are prepared for viewing with each type, and why the information gathered is useful to scientists and ordinary people. For example, Kunkel studied the muscle cells of the embryonic South African clawed frog to learn more about how specialized cells receive messages from nerves—information that may someday help doctors treat patients with muscle diseases. An excellent additions to the science, biography, and careers sections. (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-618-05546-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2001


In this abridged and illustrated version of his Short History of Nearly Everything (2003), Bryson invites a younger crowd of seekers on a tour of time, space and science—from the Big Bang and the birth of the solar system to the growth and study of life on Earth. The single-topic spreads are adorned with cartoon portraits of scientists, explorers and (frequently) the author himself, which go with small nature photos and the occasional chart or cutaway view. Though occasionally subject to sweeping and dubious statements—“There’s no chance we could ever make a journey through the solar system”—Bryson makes a genial guide (“for you to be here now, trillions of drifting atoms had somehow to come together in a complicated and obliging manner to create you”), and readers with even a flicker of curiosity in their souls about Big Ideas will come away sharing his wonder at living in such a “fickle and eventful universe.” (index) (Nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-385-73810-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2009


Remarking that ``nothing about the weather is very simple,'' Simon goes on to describe how the sun, atmosphere, earth's rotation, ground cover, altitude, pollution, and other factors influence it; briefly, he also tells how weather balloons gather information. Even for this outstanding author, it's a tough, complex topic, and he's not entirely successful in simplifying it; moreover, the import of the striking uncaptioned color photos here isn't always clear. One passage—``Cumulus clouds sometimes build up into towering masses called cumulus congestus, or swelling cumulus, which may turn into cumulonimbus clouds''—is superimposed on a blue-gray, cloud-covered landscape. But which kind of clouds are these? Another photo, in blue-black and white, shows what might be precipitation in the upper atmosphere, or rain falling on a darkened landscape, or...? Generally competent and certainly attractive, but not Simon's best. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-688-10546-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1993

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