A bushelful of inviting, idiosyncratic subjects with which to become acquainted.



An encyclopedic gathering of (mostly) odd items to prod the imaginations of the curious.

Resler has assembled here a swarm of interesting bits of information on subjects as disparate as kazoos and invasive species. You don’t have to be a nerd to be captivated by this combination of Guinness Book of World Records, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and short-form encyclopedia. The tidbits are arranged alphabetically, with breaks for extended investigations—say into circuses, where readers will meet fire-eaters, contortionists, and human cannonballs—and sidebars profiling personalities who have something to do with the topic at hand. Occasional flowcharts help readers to see how their own nerdy interests might lead them to further study or even careers. The meat of the book, however, is in the bit-sized entries, typically no longer than four or five sentences. These touch upon topics running from Dada and daydreaming through Easter Island statues and experimental rock-’n’-roll to juggling and Jupiter’s auroras. It is a merry band of far-flung subject matter, presented in slightly self-conscious, jazzy language. “It’d hang out in swamps and snack on anything it pleased,” the book writes of a giant prehistoric snake, whereas “Zombies are dead people who come back to life (kinda).” Only rarely does the information swerve toward the cute—“If most zombies eat brains, what do vegetarian zombies eat?”—as most of the info blurbs are fun to know and in many instances educational.

A bushelful of inviting, idiosyncratic subjects with which to become acquainted. (Nonfiction. 8-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3474-0

Page Count: 176

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)



Cusick floats a slick, select gallery of nature’s spitters, nose-pickers, oozers, and slimers—most but not all nonhuman—atop nourishing globs of scientific information.

Title notwithstanding, the book is limited just to mucus and saliva. Following introductory looks at the major components of each, Cusick describes their often similar uses in nature—in swallowing or expelling foreign matter, fighting disease, predation and defense, camouflage, travel, communication (“Aren’t you glad humans use words to communicate?”), home construction, nutrition, and more. All of this is presented in easily digestible observations placed among, and often referring to, color photos of slime-covered goby fish, a giraffe with its tongue up its nose, various drooling animals, including a white infant, and like photogenic subjects. Two simple experiments cater to hands-on types, but any readers who take delight in sentences like “Some fungus beetles eat snail slime mucus” come away both stimulated and informed.

What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63322-115-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Moondance/Quarto

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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