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Now Available! The SB&F Searchable Database of Reviews

The SB&F Advanced Search allows subscribers and registered users to search the SB&F database of reviews.  Our database contains more than 10,000 science book, film and software reviews. Users can search by the criteria of their choice to find exactly what they need.

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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

Bathala, Dr. Neeti, and Jennifer Keats Curtis. Moonlight Crab Count(Illus.) (Illus. by Veronica V. Jones.) Mt. Pleasant, SC: Arbordale Publishing, 2017. 32pp. $17.95. 2016043591. ISBN 9781628559309. C.I.P.

K, EP, EI, T

Rating: **

There are many reasons to commend and recommend this book. First, it describes a way in which even young children can advance scientific understanding. The book’s heroine, Leena, helps her mother perform a horseshoe crab census on a nearby beach. She identifies crabs according to gender and position in which they are found. Second, it presents the processes of science realistically and accurately, including collecting information in advance, planning the mission, accurately recording observations, and maintaining safety standards. Third, it provides a great deal of information about the fascinating horseshoe crab and the species it interacts with, including humans. Fourth, it provides realistic, achievable role modeling. Leena is an ordinary kid. Her mom looks like a mom, not a fashion model. They spend a night together counting interesting critters, contributing to our understanding of horseshoe crabs. Last, it is very interesting, both to adults and to children.--Michele Bremer, Bremer & Associates, Monument, CO

 

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Featured Young Adult Book Review

 

Agrawal, Anurag. Monarchs and Milkweed: A Migrating Butterfly, a Poisonous Plant, and Their Remarkable Story of Coevolution. (Illus.) Princeton, NJ: Princeton, 2017. 283pp. $29.95. 2016034053. ISBN 9780691166353. Index; C.I.P.

JH, YA, C, T, GA

Rating: **

Science strongly indicates all living things evolved from a common ancestor to form the complex biosphere we inhabit on the earth. Agrawal deftly plucks one strand from this web of life, the monarch butterfly, and elucidates reverberations that resonate from the dawn of time to the present and back and forth among life forms along the way. The monarch has been made an American icon over the past century by a few dedicated scientists that primarily captured the imagination of the public over the mystery of where this common, attractive butterfly that fed on a toxic weed across the United States went in winter. Citizen scientists, including school children, were initially recruited to tag adult monarchs and report recaptured ones; today, they are also planting milkweeds. Monarch life history on a toxic host laden with cardenolides and largely dependent on migrating vast distances to tiny overwintering sites and back again is the backbone of the book. Insights into speciation, cardiovascular physiology, chemical and community ecology, mimicry, molecular biology, modeling, climate change, involvement of citizens in scientific research, environmentalism, and professional disagreements over interpretation of limited facts are included. Complex subjects are rendered comprehensible and interesting to those with a minimal science background. Expert quidnuncs are rewarded with 21 small font pages of highly referenced source material linked to each chapter. Color illustrations are abundantly informative, the main text font is eminently legible with a useful index, and the well bound paper stock bodes well for the physical longevity of the book.--Marvin K. Harris, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

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Featured Adult Book Review

McGinn, Colin. Prehension: The Hand and the Emergence of Humanity. (Illus.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2015. 208pp. $24.95. 2014049819. ISBN 9780262029322. Index; C.I.P.

C, T, GA

Rating: **

The book entitled Prehension: The Hand and the Emergence of Humanity by Colin McGinn provides a great opportunity to question the mechanisms associated with the evolution of humans and how the hand was essential in the move from trees to life on the ground. The book lays out the argument using evolutionary concepts and can be easily read by college students, teachers, and the general public. The book has fifteen chapters that are similar to short modules on making the case of the relationship of the hand as the significant anatomical structure that allowed this transition for humans and how extinction may have been much closer for humans than almost anyone contemplates.

The book has a series of notes related to each chapter that are highly effective in getting ideas across. The impact of each chapter is enhanced immensely by this section and it is recommended that these notes be read while completing each chapter.

The book focuses on the central question: What might explain the remarkable emergence of humanity? The book looks very closely on the success of our ancestors who stayed in the trees and how human adaptations were slow and followed the rules of evolution as we made our way onto the land. It also highlights why plants and other animals did not make such a dramatic change in their habitat. The fact we were able to make the transition, let alone so successfully, is developed throughout the book.

Overall, this book is an excellent read. It requires an open mind and takes you on the journey of the adaptions that allowed humans to succeed as they evolved. A powerful argument arises that integral changes made our success and these changes are in structures within and related to the hand. The journey will be one that you were glad you took and it is a stimulating and thought provoking book.--John Richard Crooks, Lorain County Community College, Elyria, OH