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The SB&F Reviews page is updated regularly with new reviews. See our featured reviews below. Check back often for the latest science book reviews from SB&F.

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Featured Children's Book Review

Levine, Sara. Fossil by Fossil: Comparing Dinosaur Bones. ((Illus. by T.S. Spookytooth.) Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publishing Group, 2018. 32pp. $26.65. ISBN 9781467794893. Glossary.

K, EP, EI

Rating: **

Fossil by Fossil leverages young readers’ interest in dinosaurs to introduce concepts of anatomy and, more importantly, to think like a scientist. Unanswered questions are posed; and the idea of translating information learned from one group of living things to better understand another is introduced. Concepts including adaptation are explored. All of this does not preclude incorporating fun facts (Ichthyosaurs “had babies that came out tail first, just like dolphins.”), vocabulary, thoughtful references, and encouragement to observe the world around the reader. To enhance all that, Mr. Spookytooth’s graphics are great. Children's science books don't get any better.--Diane Bellis, Science /Environment Associates, Palestine, WV

 

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Featured Young Adult Book Review

 

Grinspoon, David. Earth in Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet's Future. New York, NY: Grand Central Publishing, 2016. 522pp. $28.00. 2016025817. ISBN 9781455589128. Index; C.I.P..

YA, C, T, GA

Rating: **

In a nutshell, this is a book about the Anthropocene, the proposed new epoch of humanity. In some circles, it is highly controversial as to whether or not a new geologic epoch should be formally designated (and if so, when it should begin) in acknowledgement of the influence humans are having on the planet. Millions of years from now, will the Anthropocene be recognizable by a layer of plastics and various chemical residues, a spike in temperature (as may be detected in isotope data), and so forth? But such discussion is not the focus of Grinspoon’s book. Rather, adopting the working concept of the Anthropocene, the author (an astrobiologist) addresses the manner in which we, humans and our technology and civilization, are currently re working and re shaping the planet, for better or worse. Humanity has become a geological force, but thus far we are (for the most part) acting rather blindly, without full awareness of the often unintended consequences of our actions (the use of chlorofluorocarbons and the resulting damage to the ozone layer is a classic example).

Grinspoon places the concept of the Anthropocene into the context of over four billion years of Earth history, including how both extraterrestrial factors, such as comets and asteroids, and life on Earth have influenced geological processes in the past. He brings to the table an interplanetary perspective, delivering a fascinating discussion of SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) and speculations on how other technologically advanced organisms may have dealt with similar issues on their home planets. This is a thought provoking book that can be used as a supplemental text for environmental science, geology, and biology classes at the high school and college level. For anyone interested in the subject matter (and we all should be), it is well worth pursuing.--Robert M. Schoch, Boston University, Boston, MA

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Featured Adult Book Review

Sartore, Joel. Photo Ark: One Man's Quest to Document the World's Animals. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 2017. 399pp. $35.00. 2016038616. ISBN 9781426217777. Index; C.I.P.

GA

Rating: **

When I received the book in the mail, I thought it was extremely thick and heavy. How could I read and review this massive book? But, after starting to look at the book, I couldn't stop reading it. This is an amazing book. It contains about 400 outstanding, full-page, color photos of all sorts of animals, ranging from photos of the common garden snail to the Asian elephant. The book is a testimonial to the importance of preserving the species diversity that exists on the earth. The photos are interspersed with commentaries from conservationists. Each brief essay emphasizes the importance of species diversity to human well-being and survival. Of course, not all species on the earth could be included in the book, but the number of photos is very impressive. Indeed, I never even heard of a number of the organisms that are included, such as the Himalayan monal, the Northern lamandua, the Hispaniolan hutia, the Horned screamer, the Red-headed uakari, and the Bengal slow loris. Readers will be amazed at the colors and intricate features of these different animals. There are chapters devoted to Mirrors, Partners, Opposites, Curiosities, and Stories of Hope. There is a comprehensive index at the end of the book that enables readers to quickly view any of the organisms. My only criticism of the book is that the font is light and a bit difficult to read. Darker print would have been desirable. Otherwise, this is a book that readers of all ages would enjoy. The book stimulates a desire to become active in promoting preservation of biodiversity on earth.--Marvin Druger, Retired Syracuse University Professor, Syracuse, NY