Ambitious in scope; a distinctively nuanced picture of modern science in action.



A trimmed—but still hefty—young readers’ adaptation of Isaacson’s much-admired 2021 original.

Substantial discussions of gene tailoring’s promise and thorny ethical quandaries expand this story of how researchers discovered a mechanism that bacteria use to “remember” and nullify attacking viruses and how they have leveraged it with maladies from sickle cell anemia to Covid-19. The work centers pioneering researcher Doudna—tracing her Nobel Prize–winning achievements but also situating her in a teeming international community of fellow researchers whose relationships are fueled by a fizzy mix of egos and altruism. Young readers may be more interested in Doudna’s discoveries than the details of a midlife existential reckoning or a fence-mending web chat with a formerly close colleague. But along with some photos, there are vivid word portraits of her as well as fellow scientists, from James Watson (“difficult and complicated”) to He Jiankui, whose “thirst for fame” led in 2018 to his inserting genomic alterations into viable human embryos. That episode demonstrated that we actually can “hack evolution,” for better or worse: “It’s good that some people have strong opinions about gene engineering in humans, but it’s even better if you know what a gene actually is.” If some passages read like acronymic word salad, the whole package offers a stimulating and topical case study in how rewarding science can be when it’s “letting data dance with big ideas.” An index and resource list would have been helpful.

Ambitious in scope; a distinctively nuanced picture of modern science in action. (endnotes) (Nonfiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66591-066-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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Small but mighty necessary reading.


From the Pocket Change Collective series

A miniature manifesto for radical queer acceptance that weaves together the personal and political.

Eli, a cis gay white Jewish man, uses his own identities and experiences to frame and acknowledge his perspective. In the prologue, Eli compares the global Jewish community to the global queer community, noting, “We don’t always get it right, but the importance of showing up for other Jews has been carved into the DNA of what it means to be Jewish. It is my dream that queer people develop the same ideology—what I like to call a Global Queer Conscience.” He details his own isolating experiences as a queer adolescent in an Orthodox Jewish community and reflects on how he and so many others would have benefitted from a robust and supportive queer community. The rest of the book outlines 10 principles based on the belief that an expectation of mutual care and concern across various other dimensions of identity can be integrated into queer community values. Eli’s prose is clear, straightforward, and powerful. While he makes some choices that may be divisive—for example, using the initialism LGBTQIAA+ which includes “ally”—he always makes clear those are his personal choices and that the language is ever evolving.

Small but mighty necessary reading. (resources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09368-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today.

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A beautifully heart-wrenching graphic-novel adaptation of actor and activist Takei’s (Lions and Tigers and Bears, 2013, etc.) childhood experience of incarceration in a World War II camp for Japanese Americans.

Takei had not yet started school when he, his parents, and his younger siblings were forced to leave their home and report to the Santa Anita Racetrack for “processing and removal” due to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. The creators smoothly and cleverly embed the historical context within which Takei’s family’s story takes place, allowing readers to simultaneously experience the daily humiliations that they suffered in the camps while providing readers with a broader understanding of the federal legislation, lawsuits, and actions which led to and maintained this injustice. The heroes who fought against this and provided support to and within the Japanese American community, such as Fred Korematsu, the 442nd Regiment, Herbert Nicholson, and the ACLU’s Wayne Collins, are also highlighted, but the focus always remains on the many sacrifices that Takei’s parents made to ensure the safety and survival of their family while shielding their children from knowing the depths of the hatred they faced and danger they were in. The creators also highlight the dangerous parallels between the hate speech, stereotyping, and legislation used against Japanese Americans and the trajectory of current events. Delicate grayscale illustrations effectively convey the intense emotions and the stark living conditions.

A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today. (Graphic memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-60309-450-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Top Shelf Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2019

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