A really, really big and more pertinent question is: Who is the audience for this unnecessary effort? (Nonfiction. 9-12)


From the Really, Really Big Questions About... series

In the third of a series of Really, Really Big Question books, Law delves again into philosophy for children.

The title might imply that this is going to be yet another anatomy-and-physiology-for-children effort. To a certain extent, it is. Discussing cells and atoms and providing some attention to a few body parts—eyes and brains especially—it meanders about, briefly spotlighting a topic and just as quickly heading off in another direction. While it delves into philosophical questions that have haunted deep thinkers for eons—"How do I know that the world is real?" for example—it also fails to name "the tube into your stomach" or "the different tube into your lungs," with the apparent supposition that these long words might stump readers. In answering "Why do I catch colds?" the author incorrectly reports that the virus is transmitted this way: "You might touch a doorknob that someone with the virus has used and then touch the food you are eating." Actually, stomach acid destroys cold viruses, which spread through the air. Aspinall's quirky, disproportionate people scamper across the brightly colored, sometimes hard-to-read pages, helpfully distracting readers from the watered-down deep thought. This shotgun approach to anatomy and philosophy does justice to neither topic; better works are abundant. 

A really, really big and more pertinent question is: Who is the audience for this unnecessary effort? (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7534-6892-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Kingfisher

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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A rich source of terrors both real and manufactured, equally effective in broad daylight or beneath the bedcovers.



A compendium of paranormal doings, natural horrors, and eerie wonders worldwide and (in several senses) beyond.

Maladroit title aside (“…in Bed” would make more sense, cautionwise), this collection of hauntings, cryptids, natural and historical mysteries, and general titillation (“Vampire bats might be coming for you!”) offers a broad array of reasons to stay wide awake. Arranged in no discernible order the 60-plus entries include ghostly sightings in the White House and various castles, body-burrowing guinea worms, the Nazca lines of Peru, Mothman and Nessie, the hastily abandoned city of Pripyat (which, thanks to the Chernobyl disaster, may be habitable again…in 24,000 years), monarch-butterfly migrations, and diverse rains of fish, frogs, fireballs, and unidentified slime. Each is presented in a busy whirl of narrative blocks, photos, graphics, side comments, and arbitrary “Fright-O-Meter” ratings (Paris’ “Creepy Catacombs” earn just a “4” out of 10 and black holes a “3,” but the aforementioned aerial amphibians a full “10”). The headers tend toward the lurid: “Jelly From Space,” “Zombie Ants,” “Mongolian Death Worm.” Claybourne sprinkles multiple-choice pop quizzes throughout for changes of pace.

A rich source of terrors both real and manufactured, equally effective in broad daylight or beneath the bedcovers. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4263-2841-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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In a large, handsome format, Tarnowska offers six tales plus an abbreviated version of the frame story, retold in formal but contemporary language and sandwiched between a note on the Nights’ place in her childhood in Lebanon and a page of glossary and source notes. Rather than preserve the traditional embedded structure and cliffhanger cutoffs, she keeps each story discrete and tones down the sex and violence. This structure begs the question of why Shahriyar lets Shahrazade [sic] live if she tells each evening’s tale complete, but it serves to simplify the reading for those who want just one tale at a time. Only the opener, “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp,” is likely to be familiar to young readers; in others a prince learns to control a flying “Ebony Horse” by “twiddling” its ears, contending djinn argue whether “Prince Kamar el Zaman [or] Princess Boudour” is the more beautiful (the prince wins) and in a Cinderella tale a “Diamond Anklet” subs for the glass slipper. Hénaff’s stylized scenes of domed cityscapes and turbaned figures add properly whimsical visual notes to this short but animated gathering. (Folktales. 10-12)


Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-84686-122-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Barefoot Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2010

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