Poor execution sinks this effort.

AWESOME ACHIEVERS IN TECHNOLOGY

SUPER AND STRANGE FACTS ABOUT 12 ALMOST FAMOUS HISTORY MAKERS

This chatty collective biography highlights achievements of 12 lesser-known inventors and innovators in technologies that are now commonplace in homes, workplaces, and public spaces.

With the exceptions of windshield wipers, Scotchguard™, and the three-point lap-and-shoulder seat belt, the technologies discussed are either digital or electronic. Nolan Bushnell, the co-founder of Atari, unleashed Pong upon the world in 1972. Adam Cheyer and Dag Kittlaus invented the conversational personal assistant Siri. Marie Van Brittan Brown pioneered the use of closed-circuit television. The research of Shirley Ann Jackson, the first African American woman to receive a Ph.D. from MIT, led to the faster and more reliable transmission of data through fiber optic cables and to the development of the solar cell. The biographical profiles and explanations of the technologies, written in an informal, conversational tone, are quite brief, even superficial, with little or no elaboration about their greater cultural or societal impacts. Katz includes lighthearted elements such as imagined poems, song lyrics, and diary entries with each profile. Neither these nor the unremarkable pencil-drawn illustrations that complement the comical addendums shed significant light on the figures profiled. A serious flaw is the lack of source notes, bibliographic information, and any other backmatter. The lineup has a greater proportion of women than seen in many tech overviews, but only Jackson and Brown, both African American, seem to be people of color.

Poor execution sinks this effort. (Collective biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7624-6336-7

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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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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