No sophomore slump here. Pick up a copy.

MOLES

From the Superpower Field Guide series

Following series opener Beavers (2018), another field guide and another nuanced look at an underappreciated species.

In this installment, Poliquin explains how the wonders of evolution have led to the creation of the marvelous mole. À la the format established in Beavers, the narrator lists those superpowers that make the mole (named Rosalie) special. The list includes a plethora of fun reach words, including the “indefatigable paws of power,” “super-squidgibility,” and “double-thumb-digging dominance.” (Sure, “squidgibility” may be a new coinage, but it works well to describe how “Rosalie can fold herself in half to do a somersault through her hind legs,” effectively reversing in her tunnel. And it’s really fun to say.) Periodic humorous quizzes test readers’ knowledge (and ability to absorb new information). The cheeky tone works well overall, combining a bit of snark with a lot of information. Frith’s illustrations are similar to the previous book’s, with a white female narrator guiding readers. Sadly, Rosalie doesn’t have the same Hanna-Barbera cuteness of beavers Elmer and Irma, but Frith’s emphasis on realism over adorableness may be appreciated by scientifically minded readers. Backmatter includes a glossary (with sporadic phonetic spelling) and a brief bibliography, which includes nonfiction, fiction, and web links. The final pages hint at the next book in the series (and a trip to Africa).

No sophomore slump here. Pick up a copy. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-544-95107-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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