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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

Markle, Sandra. The Great Penguin Rescue: Saving the African Penguins . ((Illus.) Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publishing Group, 2017. 48pp. $30.65. 2016042675. ISBN 9781512413151. Glossary; Index; C.I.P.

K, EP, EI, EA

Rating: **

When one thinks about African wildlife, penguins probably would not be a first thought consideration. (Some might not even suspect that at one time there were millions of penguins on islands near southern parts of Africa.) The Great Penguin Rescue: Saving the African Penguins provides a succinct account about a specific wildlife problem and current efforts for a better future for some unique animals. Young readers, as well as anyone else, glancing through the many provided photos, should enjoy both the text and the pictures. Each photo homes in on an aspect, such as nesting, molting, etc., of a penguin cycle. The close ups of the penguins are phenomenal offerings. One will feel as if each animal is literally a part of one’s world.

By page 10, the scene shifts to a brief lesson about the decline of the African penguin population during recent centuries. One learns about human interactions that were detrimental for the penguins. A positive interaction is also explained in that fortunately volunteers assist in the clean up of penguins encountering oil spills. The efforts of the International Bird Rescue Research Center on behalf of African island breeding colonies is explained. Also, attention is offered about helpful programs via the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the South African government, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds. Seldom would one find this much data about efforts to correct problems at this level. Considering that this slim volume (44 pages from Table of Contents through Index) is written for children, the nature of explained scientific projects is impressive. An Author's Note, Did you Know?, a timeline, source notes, glossary, future readings, and index all enhance this presentation.--Kathryn Stanley Podwall, Nassau Community College, Garden City, NY

 

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Featured Young Adult Book Review

 

Osterholm, Michael T., and Mark Olshaker. Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company, 2017. 341pp. $28.00. 2016957620. ISBN 9780316343695. Index; C.I.P.

YA, C, GA

Rating: **

Deadliest Enemy is written by Michael T. Osterholm and Mark Olshaker. While the text reads as scientific drama, the research and background investigation that went into the production of this text are superb. On many levels, it represents cogent and important research into the topic of deadly diseases and the scientific process of discovery, identification, management, and eradication. Historical references throughout the text provide important background on the history and epidemiology of Ebola, MERS, yellow fever, Zika, and other diseases. The authors provide a unique and welcome exegesis of the use and proper application of scientific methods of inquiry, investigation, and interpretation. This book is a welcome and riveting read on an immediately relevant topic for humanity. Those readers with an interest in sleuthing, investigation, public health, and national and international health crises will welcome the approach to writing about these issues taken by the authors.--John E. Dockall, Pflugerville, TX

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Featured Adult Book Review

Stewart, Ian. Calculating the Cosmos: How Mathematics Unveils the Universe. (New York, NY: Basic Books, 2016. 360pp. $27.99. 2016935674. ISBN 9780465096107. Index; C.I.P.

C, T, GA

Rating: **

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Professor Stewart's story of humans observing the heavens and discovering its patterns and mathematical regularities. It clearly shows how joining mathematical reasoning to observations has revealed many of nature’s laws and processes driving change, life, and evolution in our universe. It offers numerous examples of the role of mathematics in clarifying astronomical phenomena, including an especially fine description of the role of chaos and resonance relations in determining motions and structures of planetary and galactic systems. Employing humor and pithy quotations (such as Philip José Farmer’s “The universe is a big place, perhaps the biggest.”) for the reader’s pleasure, the author succeeds in explaining concepts both in well established astrophysical fields and those concerning still controversial topics, such as the search for extraterrestrial life and intelligence, cosmic inflation, dark energy, dark matter, and the multiverse. Commenting on the last of these, Stewart mentions that, “Some suggest that the reason the universe brought us into existence is so that we can observe it, thus collapsing its wave function and bring it into existence.” (286) The book could have had a better proofreader to correct a few small mistakes in arithmetic and equations, although fortunately those don’t affect the value of the overall analysis or conclusions. There are some beautiful photographs included, and many drawings quite helpful in understanding the mathematics and the astronomy.--Steven Kilston, Interstellar Consultants, Cottage Grove, OR