Practical, topical science in the field for middle-grade and middle school readers.

BIRDS VS. BLADES?

OFFSHORE WIND POWER AND THE RACE TO PROTECT SEABIRDS

Scientists study seabirds to see how they might be affected by wind farms and to suggest appropriate placement for turbines to generate that nonpolluting, renewable energy.

Up and down the mid-Atlantic coast from Rhode Island to Virginia, politicians and engineers are looking for places to construct offshore wind farms, similar to those already providing clean energy around the country. Hirsch’s timely text explains this energy source, touches on why we need wind farms and how they work, and describes a four-year scientific study of gannets, scoters, and red-throated loons. She focuses particularly on the gannets, graceful ocean divers whose movements were previously a mystery. In successive chapters, she introduces the problem, then describes two nighttime boat trips to capture, band, and fit some birds with transmitters, which will reveal their whereabouts for a year. She reports on the travels of one tagged male and on life in the gannet breeding colonies off the east coast of Canada. She concludes with a more nuanced explanation of the hazards facing gannets and other seabirds. Laced with well-captioned photographs, maps, and blocks of sidebar text, the pages are attractively designed. There’s lots of information here, but there’s also lively action, a sense of immediacy, and a recognition that there are still far more questions than answers.

Practical, topical science in the field for middle-grade and middle school readers. (author’s note, source notes, glossary, selected bibliography, further information, index) (Nonfiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4677-9520-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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Dolphin lovers will appreciate this look at our complicated relationship with these marine mammals.

HOW TO SPEAK DOLPHIN

Is dolphin-assisted therapy so beneficial to patients that it’s worth keeping a wild dolphin captive?

Twelve-year-old Lily has lived with her emotionally distant oncologist stepfather and a succession of nannies since her mother died in a car accident two years ago. Nannies leave because of the difficulty of caring for Adam, Lily’s severely autistic 4-year-old half brother. The newest, Suzanne, seems promising, but Lily is tired of feeling like a planet orbiting the sun Adam. When she meets blind Zoe, who will attend the same private middle school as Lily in the fall, Lily’s happy to have a friend. However, Zoe’s take on the plight of the captive dolphin, Nori, used in Adam’s therapy opens Lily’s eyes. She knows she must use her influence over her stepfather, who is consulting on Nori’s treatment for cancer (caused by an oil spill), to free the animal. Lily’s got several fine lines to walk, as she works to hold onto her new friend, convince her stepfather of the rightness of releasing Nori, and do what’s best for Adam. In her newest exploration of animal-human relationships, Rorby’s lonely, mature heroine faces tough but realistic situations. Siblings of children on the spectrum will identify with Lily. If the tale flirts with sentimentality and some of the characters are strident in their views, the whole never feels maudlin or didactic.

Dolphin lovers will appreciate this look at our complicated relationship with these marine mammals. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-67605-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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Moving and poetic.

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PAX

A motherless boy is forced to abandon his domesticated fox when his father decides to join soldiers in an approaching war.

Twelve-year-old Peter found his loyal companion, Pax, as an orphaned kit while still grieving his own mother’s death. Peter’s difficult and often harsh father said he could keep the fox “for now” but five years later insists the boy leave Pax by the road when he takes Peter to his grandfather’s house, hundreds of miles away. Peter’s journey back to Pax and Pax’s steadfastness in waiting for Peter’s return result in a tale of survival, intrinsic connection, and redemption. The battles between warring humans in the unnamed conflict remain remote, but the oncoming wave of deaths is seen through Pax’s eyes as woodland creatures are blown up by mines. While Pax learns to negotiate the complications of surviving in the wild and relating to other foxes, Peter breaks his foot and must learn to trust a seemingly eccentric woman named Vola who battles her own ghosts of war. Alternating chapters from the perspectives of boy and fox are perfectly paced and complementary. Only Peter, Pax, Vola, and three of Pax’s fox companions are named, conferring a spare, fablelike quality. Every moment in the graceful, fluid narrative is believable. Klassen’s cover art has a sense of contained, powerful stillness. (Interior illustrations not seen.)

Moving and poetic. (Animal fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-237701-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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