Stylish and superficially informational.



An illustrator leads a tour through the periodic table.

Hip artwork and a funky display type give coffee-table appeal to this large but relatively lightweight “encyclopedia.” Colorful sections introduce each element along with its category, its year of discovery according to Western science, the scientist credited, and (usually) a “fun fact.” Additional sections, evidently sprinkled in to break up the parade of facts about the individual elements, include explorations of “endangered elements,” stinky elements, “CSI elements,” “the deadliest elements,” and elements in the human body as well as minibiographies of periodic table originator Dmitri Mendeleev, the Curies, many other notable chemists, and famed element collector Oliver Sacks. Text is friendly and illustrations, accessible; this might well prove an enticing introduction for budding researchers. There is neither a bibliography nor a credited expert reviewer, however; that might explain the erroneous proclamation that “every cubic mile of…of seawater” contains “37 pounds…of gold” or the incorrect diagram that shows gamma rays passing unhindered through a thick wall of concrete. It’s less egregious that the text equates atomic mass and atomic weight or that the ancient Greek elemental symbols shown aren’t exactly correct. The text breezes through spectrum and capacitor without defining them for the glossary—which, oddly, also includes acid but not base. Opening a gatefold on the front endpaper reveals a periodic table plus key.

Stylish and superficially informational. (index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: July 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4521-6159-4

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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, 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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