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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

Kurtz, Kevin. Sharks and Dolphins: A Compare and Contrast Book. (Illus.) Mt. Pleasant, SC: Arbordale Publishing, 2016. 32pp. $17.95. 2015035978. ISBN 9781628557329. C.I.P.

K, EP, EI, T

Rating: **

Sharks and Dolphins: A Compare and Contrast Book is a fantastic non-fiction comparison book for young readers. In its simple to read, large text (one to two sentences per page) the author provides comparisons (i.e., mammal vs. fish, breathe with gills vs. breathe with lungs, etc.) between what young scientists may think are very similar animals. The beautiful, full-page, full-color photographs depict over 20 different types of sharks and dolphins, and each photograph is captioned with the corresponding shark or dolphin name. This is an excellent book to teach the concept of compare and contrast, as the similarities and differences between sharks and dolphins are clearly written. The author provides an activity section, “For Creative Minds”, in the back of the book, which enhances the concepts in the book by providing in depth activities for the advanced reader (i.e., Venn Diagram, labeling the fin anatomy of sharks and dolphins, etc.). This is an enjoyable, educational text that will captivate young readers.--Christina Conti, Liberty Science Center, Jersey City, NJ

 

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Featured Young Adult Book Review

 

Titlow, Budd and Mariah Tinger. Protecting the Planet: Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change. Prometheus Books, 2016. 587pp. $26.00. 2016017840. ISBN 9781633882256. Index. C.I.P.

YA, C, GA

Rating: **

Protecting the Planet tells the scientific and historical story of climate change on planet Earth with special attention to the influence of humans since the Industrial Revolution. The authors review visible contemporary evidence of a changing climate including: melting ice sheets, increased storm intensity, flooding, rising mean temperatures, wildfires, droughts, declining numbers of species, ecological effects, et al. They report how scientific understanding of climate change has developed and how human activity has come to be understood as an increasingly important causal factor in climate change. The authors also elaborate the historical growth of an environmental movement whose participants seek to promote a more sustainable future and quality of life. While the book references specific environmental crises and challenges throughout the world, e.g., the Chernobyl disaster and equatorial rainforest destruction, principal foci include reporting environmental problems and remediation efforts in the USA. The book describes important environmental advocacy roles that have been played by scientists, politicians, artists, business people, religious leaders, and others. In doing so, the authors present political and personal views that will likely challenge some readers. The book’s final three chapters describe long-term potential solutions to human induced global climate change. These ideas could be examined in greater detail by students and their teachers since the book’s 80 pages of detailed chapter notes contain numerous bibliographic and website citations. Protecting the Planet will be of interest and value to readers with varied levels of scientific preparation.--Vincent N Lunetta, Penn State University, University Park, PA

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Featured Adult Book Review

Ryan, Frank. The Mysterious World of the Human Genome. Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2016. 300pp. $28.00. 2015037539. ISBN 9781633881525. Index; C.I.P.

C, T, GA

Rating: **

Dr. Frank Ryan’s latest book, written for non-scientists, provides a basic understanding of how the human genome works. It begins with a very long and detailed history of Watson and Crick’s journey to discovery of the double-helix model of DNA, including all of the many contributions made by other scientists along the way. Then, Dr. Ryan gives us a thorough explanation of the human genome and how it works. At several points, he uses an imaginary device, a train traveling down and stopping along a portion of the double helix, so that the reader can comprehend how chromosomes operate and how mutations occur. Though reading this section takes a little effort, the writing is clear and easy to follow. The third section of the book details our present state of knowledge of human evolution as seen from the point of view of the human genome. Based on the previous section, the reader can now grasp the scientific basis for our understanding of the contributions of H. erectus, H. heidelbergensis, and both Neanderthals and Denisovans to the human genome. A final last section raises questions about how we can and might use our present knowledge to alter the genome of any and all living organisms, especially humans, for better or worse. It is a very worthwhile read and will be useful for the lay reader to assess present and future controversies regarding gene manipulation.--Warren Fish, Paul Revere Middle School, Los Angeles, CA