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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

Salas, Laura Purdie. If You Were the Moon (Illus. by Jaime Kim.) Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publishing Group, 2017. 32pp. $19.99. 2016019757. ISBN 9781467780094. Glossary; C.I.P.


Rating: **

This is a book about the moon, specifically designed for young children. It has a simple sentence on one page followed by a more detailed description on the next page. This pattern continues throughout the book, allowing beginning readers to read the easy sentences and having an older person go through the harder pages. The book is written in an easy to understand language and is beautifully illustrated with engaging artwork. Topics covered include the rotation of the moon, eclipses, tides, phases of the moon, reflected sunlight, meteorite impacts, and nocturnal animals using the moon and even music and art. A small glossary is included in the back of the book as well as suggestions for further reading. Astronomy is an exciting topic, but it is difficult to explain these concepts in terms that young people can understand, but this book does a good job of not only conveying information but also of awakening a sense of wonder in the nighttime sky.--Robert N. McCullough, Ferris State University, Big Rapids, MI


Featured Young Adult Book Review


Hirsch, Rebecca E. De-Extinction: The Science of Bringing Lost Species Back to Life. New York, NY: Lerner Publishing Group, 2017. 120pp. $26.99. 2016019335. ISBN 9781467794909. Glossary; Index; C.I.P.

YA, C, T, GA

Rating: **

De-Extinction is a fascinating look at a controversial subject, the resurrection of extinct species through modern biological techniques such as cloning and genetic engineering. So far this has not been successfully accomplished for any species, although progress has been made. Hirsch opens her book with the case of the bucardo, a wild goat that roamed the Pyrenees until the last one died in 2000. Three years later researchers cloned a bucardo, using a domestic goat egg in which a bucardo nucleus had been inserted, but the newborn bucardo lived for only about ten minutes. The book then focuses on possibilities and hopes to revive mammoths and passenger pigeons in particular, while also addressing various other species, such as the gastric brooding frogs of Australia, the Tasmanian tiger, and Neanderthals. The reader is introduced to numerous related topics, including the basics of genetics, cloning, the dating of fossils, mass extinctions in the geological record, and so on. Importantly, the pros and cons of de-extinction are addressed. Will a genetically-engineered “look alike” of a once extinct species, such as living Asian elephants given mammoth-like characteristics (heavy fur and thick layers of fat) really qualify as a de-extinction event? Should such revived species be released back into the wild? What could the consequences be to natural ecosystems? Rather than pursuing a technological fix after the fact of extinction, should we rather be putting our resources into protecting still living species and their habitats? These are difficult and thought-provoking questions. This book not only teaches, but can serve as the basis for profound discussions in the classroom, particularly in high school and college level biology, ecology, evolution, and biological ethics courses. Well-illustrated, with color photos and diagrams, I highly recommend this book.--Robert M. Schoch, Boston University, Boston, MA

Featured Adult Book Review

McGowan, Chris. Saving Science Class: Why We Need Hands-on Science to Engage Kids, Inspire Curiosity, and Improve Education. Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2017. 302pp. $25.00. 2016035799. ISBN 9781633882171. Index; C.I.P.


Rating: **

Reflecting on a very successful career as a science educator, author Chris McGowan has assembled a collection of anecdotal chapters that capture highlights of his career, educational philosophy, musings on the current state of science education, and classroom tips (aka experiments). McGowan’s core message seems to be the lack of hands on learning in current science classrooms. One cause, he states, is education specialists, who want to expound on the hypotheses and models for science without truly providing a framework for students to understand or be able to demonstrate the underlying principles. McGowan argues that “real science” needs to involve active classroom teaching, where students not only hear about the hypotheses and principles, but see them, touch them, try them, and explore them—to promote understanding. So if school systems cite mandated materials, lessons, or cost as reasons for avoiding hands on science, then teachers can look to Saving Science Class for both a good read and inexpensive and profound experiments that can be integrated into science classrooms and help make science come to life. Underlying it all, the author presents his message that science literacy, promoted by hands on learning, is vitally important to the next generation of adults, whose understanding of and enthusiasm for science might be key to dealing with the complex issues facing our planet.--Yvonne Heather Burry, The Adams Street Group, Columbus, OH