Sympathetic in tone, optimistic in outlook, not heavily earnest: nothing to be afraid of.

SCARED STIFF

50 PHOBIAS THAT FREAK US OUT

Part browsing item, part therapy for the afflicted, this catalog of irrational terrors offers a little help along with a lot of pop psychology and culture.

The book opens with a clinical psychologist’s foreword and closes with a chapter of personal and professional coping strategies. In between, Latta’s alphabetically arranged encyclopedia introduces a range of panic-inducers from buttons (“koumpounophobia”) and being out of cellphone contact (“nomophobia”) to more widespread fears of heights (“acrophobia”), clowns (“coulroiphobia”) and various animals. There’s also the generalized “social anxiety disorder”—which has no medical name but is “just its own bad self.” As most phobias have obscure origins (generally in childhood), similar physical symptoms and the same approaches to treatment, the descriptive passages tend toward monotony. To counter that, the author chucks in references aplenty to celebrity sufferers, annotated lists of relevant books and (mostly horror) movies, side notes on “joke phobias” and other topics. At each entry’s end, she contributes a box of “Scare Quotes” such as a passage from Coraline for the aforementioned fear of buttons.

Sympathetic in tone, optimistic in outlook, not heavily earnest: nothing to be afraid of. (end notes, resource list) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-936976-49-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Zest Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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Broad of beam for being so shallow of draft but seaworthy for all its distinctly romanticized picture.

SWASHBUCKLING SCOUNDRELS

PIRATES IN FACT AND FICTION

A slender but sweeping survey of piracy on the high seas: in real life, from ancient times to today; in legend and fiction, from Long John Silver to Capt. Jack Sparrow and Jacky Faber.

Kaplan opens with the now-customary reference to Pirates of the Caribbean—but then goes on to introduce real 17th-century freebooter Henry Avery, who retired wealthy and unpunished after a series of dramatic exploits. That pattern holds throughout, as accounts of the careers of high-profile buccaneers and less well-known but no less daring figures (not all of whom came to bad ends) alternate down through history and also in printed works, films, video games, and television. The author plays on the contrasting popular perceptions of pirates as both brutal criminals and “lovable antiheroes,” even to the extent of portraying today’s Somali pirates in a sympathetic light. A judicious selection of photos and period images adds visual color, sidebars cast glances on topics ranging from sea shanties to digital piracy, and starter lists of print and Web resources will get readers eager to dig into this popular topic underway.

Broad of beam for being so shallow of draft but seaworthy for all its distinctly romanticized picture. (map, index, glossary, endnotes) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4677-5252-7

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Lerner

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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It’s a topic of major concern, but there’s little here to kindle that concern in young readers or to set the book apart from...

SEVEN BILLION AND COUNTING

THE CRISIS IN GLOBAL POPULATION GROWTH

A slim volume combines a background overview with a call to action.

Andregg begins by citing a 2011 figure for human numbers and vaguely noting that “[p]eople are planting crops in areas with poor soil in an effort to feed growing populations.” He goes on to explain the basics of demographics, then presents an eye-glazing continent-by-continent review of trends in birth rates, death rates, growth rates, life expectancies and similar indicators. In equally abstract terms he also covers population-related wildlife and environmental issues, plus international efforts to reduce human birth rates. Aside from intriguing posters and public-service advertisements from various countries promoting said family-planning initiatives, the illustrations are largely just generic crowd shots. The sound-bite quotes at chapter heads and elsewhere are more specifically sourced than the facts and figures in the narrative or the charts with which it is punctuated. Unappealing extracurricular activities proposed at the end include starting a club to discuss population issues and conducting a survey (suggested question: “What kind of population policy do you think the United States should have? Why?”).

It’s a topic of major concern, but there’s little here to kindle that concern in young readers or to set the book apart from the assignment-fodder herd. (bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7613-6715-4

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Lerner

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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