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An invitation to young readers to observe, enjoy, and learn about the world around us all.

A well-known animal scientist, engineer, and spokesperson for people with autism shares the enthusiasm she’s had since childhood for the natural world.

In a chatty narrative organized in topical chapters—rocks, the beach, the woods, birds, the night skies, and animal behavior—Grandin weaves memories of her childhood passion for the natural world with facts she’s learned since. She shares some challenges she faced as an autistic child as well as some advantages of her difference. Throughout, she conveys a continuing sense of wonder and a habit of close observation. Interstitial segments recount stories of other scientists, often mentioning their early interests. Each chapter also includes clear directions for do-it-yourself projects, 40 in all, from making your own crystals to keeping track of monarch butterflies. Within the narrative, she often includes websites and book titles, showing her readers how she learned and encouraging their further investigations. Several chapters and the book conclude with reminders that our Earth needs some help. Within each general area, the science conveyed is prompted by her memories rather than an organized survey. She demonstrates how curiosity can propel and fulfill a human being to learn all kinds of things. Readers will, too, since the book is chock-full of information—occasionally incomplete or misleading but mostly the kind a nature-loving child will be thrilled to discover.

An invitation to young readers to observe, enjoy, and learn about the world around us all. (bibliography, further reading, citizen-science projects) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11555-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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1001 BEES

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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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

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