A lively and captivating book weakened by its narrow cultural focus.

FAIRY TALE SCIENCE

EXPLORE 25 CLASSIC TALES THROUGH HANDS-ON EXPERIMENTS

Readers are invited to approach fairy tales with scientific curiosity.

This collection includes summaries of 25 fairy tales, 22 of which are European, although the full-color, cartoon-style illustrations feature ethnically diverse children. For each, information regarding the story’s origin and variations is provided. Following each summary, the author discusses related scientific concepts and provides detailed steps for performing one or more experiments or activities, complete with scientific terms, definitions, diagrams, and reflective questions. Following “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” the author includes a discussion of vital signs. Also included are steps for readers to determine their heart rates. Following “The Three Little Pigs,” the author provides a discussion of forces, including how the wind can cause structural failure. Readers are encouraged to test this using a ping-pong ball and blow-dryer. The author’s humorous and satirical retelling of each tale is key, offering a fresh perspective on these classics and encouraging readers to begin thinking like scientists. The rich heritages of Africa, Indigenous North America, Oceania, and Latin America are entirely absent, while a story set in China by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen is included; alongside the story of Ali Baba, the two other non-Western tales are about possibly real Asian historical figures—Mulan and Vikramaditya—choices out of keeping with the European stories. The cursory explanations of past societies’ timekeeping abilities and fear of witches feel ahistorical.

A lively and captivating book weakened by its narrow cultural focus. (glossary) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-25761-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Odd Dot

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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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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