Anecdotal, loopily organized, but engaging. And chewy! (glossary, acknowledgments, endnotes with resources, index)...

THE SLOWEST BOOK EVER

Sayre beckons kids to investigate and ruminate on slow-moving animals, slow-growing plants, slow motion, and plenty more.

In loosely arranged sections, the author adopts a conversational style to both inform and amuse curious students. She covers expected topics, such as the centuries-old sequoia tree, the land snail, and slow-forming geologic wonders like the Grand Canyon. But refreshing, often fleeting twists of topic, delivered with repeated exhortations for kids to slow down, ponder, and study, combine for a galloping volume that respects children as capable scientific thinkers. Sayre examines time’s effect on natural materials, from the Statue of Liberty’s copper to the erosion of gravestones. The origins of the air and water that compose human bodies get a look, as does the biology of intentionally slow practices such as tai chi and yoga. The concept of “slow” in art and culture—evidenced in the slow-food movement, the art of bonsai, and John Cage’s composition “As Slow as Possible” (which will last about 639 years)—is playfully introduced. Current scientists and their work are interwoven. Murphy’s cartoonish illustrations provide more humor than elucidation. The whole shebang winds up in outer space, where Sayre introduces concepts like light-years and dark matter and calls on kids to think “big, slow, chewy thoughts” about the expanding universe.

Anecdotal, loopily organized, but engaging. And chewy! (glossary, acknowledgments, endnotes with resources, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62091-783-1

Page Count: 168

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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

OIL

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. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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

GET THE SCOOP ON ANIMAL SNOT, SPIT & SLIME!

FROM SNAKE VENOM TO FISH SLIME, 251 COOL FACTS ABOUT MUCUS, SALIVA & MORE

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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