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

NERD Aa TO Zz

YOUR REFERENCE TO LITERALLY FIGURATIVELY EVERYTHING YOU'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW

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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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

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 14, 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 FACTS

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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