From the Nocturnals series

Broader in scope than the title suggests and likely to keep young naturalists reading well past sunset.

A fictive squad of nighttime animals shines lights on some of their real cousins.

An ensemble developed by Hecht for a series of novels and easy readers intrudes into the photos as naïvely painted figures and pops up between chapters to comment, but Berne does the informational heavy lifting. Here she profiles a select band of nocturnal creatures, from greater horseshoe bats and red foxes to bandicoots and mangrove pit vipers. Many of the animals are native to Australia or subtropical Asia and may be less familiar or even new to young readers in more northerly climes—the powerful owl, for instance, or the small, fungi-eating marsupial woylie—and the photos (by various contributors credited in the backmatter) likewise offer rare views of seven species of pangolins, five kinds of jerboas, and, following a chapter on the sugar glider, glimpses of other gliders, including the parachute frog and the paradise tree snake. Though the language is informal and every short chapter includes mention, usually with photos, of animal babies (aww), the co-author does introduce chewy vocabulary (crepuscular, cathemeral), explains the mechanisms of echolocation and how foxes use Earth’s magnetic field to zero in on prey, and tucks further detail into a listing of further information on each animal, such as diet and habitat. She even adds savvy general research guidelines to the expansive backmatter.

Broader in scope than the title suggests and likely to keep young naturalists reading well past sunset. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-944020-73-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Fabled Films

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022


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


Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care.

In 1977, the oil carrier Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into a formerly pristine Alaskan ocean inlet, killing millions of birds, animals, and fish. Despite a cleanup, crude oil is still there.

The Winters foretold the destructive powers of the atomic bomb allusively in The Secret Project (2017), leaving the actuality to the backmatter. They make no such accommodations to young audiences in this disturbing book. From the dark front cover, on which oily blobs conceal a seabird, to the rescuer’s sad face on the back, the mother-son team emphasizes the disaster. A relatively easy-to-read and poetically heightened text introduces the situation. Oil is pumped from the Earth “all day long, all night long, / day after day, year after year” in “what had been unspoiled land, home to Native people // and thousands of caribou.” The scale of extraction is huge: There’s “a giant pipeline” leading to “enormous ships.” Then, crash. Rivers of oil gush out over three full-bleed wordless pages. Subsequent scenes show rocks, seabirds, and sea otters covered with oil. Finally, 30 years later, animals have returned to a cheerful scene. “But if you lift a rock… // oil / seeps / up.” For an adult reader, this is heartbreaking. How much more difficult might this be for an animal-loving child?

Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3077-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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