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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

Bennett, Jeffrey. I, Humanity. Boulder, CO: Big Kid Science, 2016. 32pp. $15.00. ISBN 9781937548520. Glossary.

EP, EI, EA, JH, YA

Rating: **

In the course of cosmic history, the Earth is relatively young. Over the course of Earth’s history, humanity itself is of recent vintage. Human culture and civilization has developed even more recently, existing for only a brief moment in the life of our planet. Yet, in that flash of cosmic time, our species has come to an awesome and deep knowledge of the cosmos. This inspirational and optimistic book is a concise, but wide ranging narrative of humanity’s struggle to understand the universe told in the first person voice of the human race. From the earliest observations of the night sky, studying the motions of the sun and moon, the stars and planets, to the recent steps off our planet into the solar system and beyond, this fast-paced tale recounts how our knowledge of the universe has developed and increased over the millennia. The book is filled with beautiful, full color illustrations that are a delight to the eye. It also provides suggested activities for students of all grade levels. These activities range from astronomical observation projects to projects in cultural astronomy. Teachers at all grade levels, from elementary school to high school, will find this a useful book to provide classroom projects, provoke questions, and invite debate. I would even recommend it be added to the collateral reading lists of undergraduate science education courses. Though written for youthful readers, this book will interest the adult reader and make one proud to be human.--Thomas Pinkney Davis, Spade Independent School District, Spade, TX

 

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Featured Young Adult Book Review

 

Ignotofsky, Rachel. Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 2016. 128pp. $16.99. 2015050246. ISBN 9781607749769. Glossary; Index; C.I.P.

EA, JH, YA

Rating: **

“Throughout history many women have risked everything in the name of science. This book tells the stories of some of these scientists, from ancient Greece to the modern day, who in the face of “‘No’ said, ‘Try and stop me.’” (7) This ending statement of Ignotofsky’s introduction sets the tone for this celebration of fifty women from a diversity of backgrounds and scientific fields. Double page spreads provide profiles of the women. The personal tone of the narrative and the abundance of interest catching, whimsical infographic drawings make the entries (presented chronologically from ancient times to the present) informative and accessible. Some of the women, such as fossil collector and paleontologist Mary Anning (1799-1847), Nobel Prize winning physicist and chemist Marie Curie (1867-1934), marine biologist and environmentalist Rachel Carson (1907-1964), and primatologist Jane Goodall (1934 - ) will be known to many readers, but most will not. For example, the last profile is of Iranian born Maryam Mirzakhani (1977 - ), who came to the U.S. for graduate school to study mathematics, focusing on hyperbolic geometry, and presently continues her studies of the dynamics of abstract surfaces at Stanford University. Throughout this celebratory and inspiring book, Ignotofsky clearly expresses the inequalities and challenges that women in science have faced throughout history. Interspersed among the profiles are additional double spread features: “Timeline,” “Lab Tools,” “Statistics in STEM,” and “More Women in Science.” Back matter includes a glossary; sources (films, websites, and books); and an index.--Carolyn Angus, Children's Literature Specialist, Mountain View, CA

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Featured Adult Book Review

Kroodsma, Donald. Listening to a Continent Sing: Birdsong by Bicycle from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Princeton, NJ: Princeton, 2016. 336pp. $29.95. ISBN 9780691166810. Index.

JH, YA, C, T, GA

Rating: **

On its surface, renowned ornithologist Don Kroodsma’s latest book, Listening to a Continent Sing, is a travelogue. It is an account of a father and his 20 something son crossing the United States on bicycle. Starting in Virginia in early May and ending on the pacific coast of Oregon two months later, the pair must navigate both the physical challenges involved in such a journey, but also the challenges that arise when a father and an adult son with different personalities spend 71 days on the road. This alone makes for a fascinating account.

Beneath the surface, Listening to a Continent Sing is about is the natural history and science of bird song. Kroodsma has been one of the leaders in bringing the scientific study of bird vocalizations into the modern era. This book is a chance to cross the continent with a naturalist/scientist who interfaces with the world not with his eyes, but with his ears. The fact that his son and riding partner does not share his obsession with bird song helps highlight what a different perspective this presents. As a unique addition, virtually every page includes line drawings of the birds being discussed, paired with QR codes that link to high quality recordings of the sounds Kroodsma discusses. This easily accessible technology makes it possible for the novice to share in the experience of listening to nature without prior knowledge of bird song. Kroodsma’s account goes beyond the description and identification of birds by song, providing an interesting overview of the science of the function, development, and diversity of bird vocalizations.--John McCarty, University of Nebraska, Omaha, NE