Posted in Graphic Novels, Non-fiction

Two more Science Comics coming your way this Summer!

Science Comics is adding two more titles to their line this summer, just in time for Summer Reading!

Science Comics: Rockets – Defying Gravity, by Anne Drozd & Jerzy Drozd, (June 2018, First Second), $12.99, ISBN: 9781626728257

Recommended for readers 8-12

In June, we get a deeper look at Rockets. Readers get a guided tour by an early rocket prototype in the form of a pigeon (nope, no joke) and take a trip through the history of gravity, force, acceleration, Newton’s Laws of Motion, and the history of rockets past, present, and possible future. Readers are going to love seeing the evolution of rockets from steam-powered to jet-fueled and beyond. The many animals that have been part of our space programs get their say, here, too: from bears, to chimpanzees, to dogs, and more, there are full-color spreads loaded with colorful illustrations and packed with information. Resources at the end of the book are ready to guide interested readers.

If you haven’t enjoyed Jerzy Drozd’s comics before, you are in for a treat. His work for the Marvel Superhero Squad game is great, and he’s got a kid-friendly webcomic, Boulder and Fleet, on his page. Anne Drozd is a librarian and space enthusiast, so you know she’s got the goods.

 

Science Comics: Trees, by Andy Hirsch, (Aug. 2018, First Second), $12.99, ISBN: 9781250143105

Recommended for readers 8-12

In August, we meet a little acorn on his journey to become a mighty oak in Trees. Kids interested in nature and ecology will love this brightly illustrated, fact-filled journey through nature, learning about different types of trees and how they are living, breathing beings that work with and contribute to their environment. This volume has a fun sense of play about it, with a spunky little friend to follow through nature. I just wish this one were out earlier, so I could feature it when I start my planting program in a few weeks – the illustration and discussion on how seeds always know which way to grow is amazing!

If you enjoyed the Dogs Science Comic, or read Varmints, you may recognize Andy Hirsch’s work. You can also visit his website, A for Andy, for more illustrations.

 

Posted in Graphic Novels, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

Secret Coders and Science Comics – Comics that help kids love learning!

There are two more Science Comics coming your way from First Second, along with another Secret Coders volume. Let’s jump in and see what’s good!

 

Science Comics: Robots & Drones – Past, Present, & Future, by Mairghread Scott/Illustrated by Jacob Chabot, (March 2018, First Second), $19.99, ISBN: 9781626727939
Recommended for readers 9-13

The latest volume of Science Comics takes a deeper look at robots. With Poulli, a birdlike robot that’s also the first machine to ever fly through the sky (back in 350 BCE!), as our guide, readers get a guided tour through the history of robotics, and learn what is versus what isn’t a robot. New, programmable coffeemakers? Robots! Remote-controlled cars – not really. Kids get a refresher on simple machines (levels and pulleys) and how those simple concepts formed the building blocks for more complex machines, eventually leading to modern technology, robots, and drones. There’s a focus on the good robots and drones can accomplish (for those techno-phobes who see The Terminator as our eventual future) and the human component of computer programming. Isaac Asimov, legendary scientist and science fiction writer who gave us the Three Laws of Robotics, gets some recognition here, too.

There’s a nice shout-out to libraries and after-school programs as places to go to learn more about getting into programming and robotics, and some cool pop culture nods that parents will recognize (Star Trek and KITT from Knight Rider, to name a couple). The artwork features diverse characters putting their learning into practice, and the history of robotics covers diverse areas of the world. Poulli is a friendly, cute guide that will appeal to readers, and the language – as with all Science Comics – is easy to understand but never dumbs down information.

There’s a Hall of Awesome Robots, spotlighting 25 robots from history; a closer look at how drones work, and a glossary of new terms to finish up the volume.

Me? I immediately add the newest Science Comics to my shopping cart ; they’re a great add for my “True Story” nonfiction section, where I put books that may get lost on the actual nonfiction shelves, but will grab attention on their own. Plus, my True Story section is next to my Graphic Novels shelf, so it’s a win all around.

 

Secret Coders: Potions and Parameters, by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes,
(March 2018, First Second), $10.99, ISBN: 9781626726079
Recommended for readers 8-12

While we’re talking about robots and programming, there’s a new volume of Secret Coders coming at you. The fifth installment of the series sees Hopper, Eni, and Josh going up against Professor One-Zero and his evil Green Pop. The stakes are high, especially now that Hopper’s dad’s fate lies in the balance! We get a lot more of Professor Bee’s origin, and the fight for the mystical Turtle of Light will keep you turning pages. Yang and Holmes challenge readers with more logic puzzles and codes to work through, and provide detailed explanation through their characters.

Science Comics: Sharks – Nature’s Perfect Hunter, by Joe Flood,
(Apr. 2018, First Second), $12.99, ISBN: 9781626727885
Recommended for readers 8-13

Science Comics has a one-two punch in March and April, first with Robots & Drones, next with Sharks. Kids LOVE sharks. The introduction nails it with its opening line: “Lots of kids, including many of you who are reading this book, go through an ‘I love sharks’ phase.” Shark books move off my shelves faster than just about any animal, tied only by dinosaurs (and we’ve already got a Science Comic on them), so this book should be going in your cart, sight unseen. But since that’s not what I do – and because I still do love sharks – here’s a bit more to whet your shark appetites.

 

The nonfiction narrative is tied together with a story about a fictional group of shark seekers, which leads into a discussion about the bad rap sharks have gotten over the years. The classic movie Jaws kicked off shark paranoia back in the mid-1970s, and that’s explored here, as is the fact that Jaws author Peter Benchley became a passionate shark conservationist in the aftermath of his book and subsequent movie.

Readers get a history of sharks from the prehistoric era until the present, with a look at shark physiology. migration patterns, variety, and eating habits. Spoiler alert: we don’t taste very good to them, and any biting is purely accidental.  We also get a peek at the one sea animal that can take down even a great white… and it ain’t man. A shark family tree, glossary of terms, and a more accurate clarification of how to phrase shark incidents (the section’s called “Don’t Say ‘Shark Attack'”).

As I was writing this review up, one of my library kids peeked over my shoulder and saw the page scans. When I told him Sharks was coming out in April, he yelped, “Are you kidding me?!” which just goes to show you, Science Comics: Sharks is going to be a hit. I may have to order two copies.

Posted in Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

Science Comics and Dogs: A Reader’s Best Friend

Science Comics: Dogs – From Predator to Protector, by Andy Hirsch, (Oct. 2017, :01FirstSecond), $12.99, ISBN: 9781626727687

Recommended for readers 8-12

With a rescue pup named Rudy as our host, the latest addition to the Science Comics pack looks at dogs, and their evolution from predatory wolf to man (and woman!)’s best friend. Readers also take a side trip into lessons on genetics and evolution, and the history of dog breeding. Rudy is a sweet, affable guide, forever in search of his favorite bouncy ball; kids are going to love him. Making him a rescue dog adds a nice socially aware touch, and provokes discussion about adopting versus shopping for pets. Kids will learn about Gregor Mendel, the scientist and friar whose work with pea plants made him a pioneer in modern genetics; they’ll learn about observable and inherited traits, and how chromosomes combine to pass along these traits. This is information that applies to everything, not just dogs. It’s packaged with a cute puppy and a bright toy ball, sure, but there’s fantastic, solid learning to be found here.

The Science Comics series keeps getting better. Put copies of this nonfiction series on your shelves and keep a set for your reference collection. They’re that good, making seemingly confusing subjects like genetics accessible to kids and adults alike. I haven’t been able to grasp a conversation about Punnett Squares since high school, but seeing it illustrated and explained in plain English here made it so reasonable! A glossary and additional resources are available at the end of the book. Science Comics are a must-add to middle grade nonfiction collections.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Science Comics takes an up-close look at Plagues

Science Comics: Plagues-The Microscopic Battlefield, by Falynn Koch, (Aug. 20017, :01First Second), $12.99, ISBN: 9781626727526

Recommended for readers 8-12

The latest issue of Science Comics introduces readers to Bubonic Plague and Yellow Fever – no, really, they’re characters in this volume – a white blood cell, and a scientist charged with studying pathogens via simulation in order to “recruit” them to help fight disease. Kids learn how the body trains white blood cells – leukocytes – to fight infection and will meet the different kinds of leukocytes on the job. We also get a closer look at different germ classifications, bacteria, viruses, and fungi: it’s a biology class in the form of a graphic novel. We learn about scientists who studied germs, meet a black plague victim (yikes), and see the evolution of disease prevention from medieval times to the present.

Science Comics have been a valuable addition to my nonfiction collections since First Second introduced the series. They’re comprehensive, breaking a wealth of detailed information into readable, digestible panels. The art never disappoints, blending fun artwork like germs with personalities and detailed cross-sections and diagrams of cells, and historical representation. A fictional narrative wraps around the nonfiction information, creating a comfortable reading and learning environment for voracious and reluctant readers alike. A brief glossary provides definitions for terms that appear throughout the book, and there is a timeline outlining milestones in the fight against disease. Footnotes provide further reading for those interested in learning more.

I’m a big proponent of comics in the classroom, and books like Science Comics are why. There’s solid, scientific information presented in a way that never talks down to readers, yet manages to make complex subjects accessible to kids and adults alike. I learn something new every time I pick up a Science Comic.

Author Falynn Koch also wrote the Bats Science Comic. You can read her blog, see more of her illustration, and see a calendar of her appearances at her website.

 

Posted in Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

Science Comics takes to the skies with Flying Machines

Science Comics: Flying Machines, by Alison Wilgus/Illustrated by Molly Brooks, (May 2017, :01First Second), $12.99, ISBN: 9781626721395

Recommended for readers 8-12

This latest installment of Science Comics introduces readers to Katharine Wright, sister to Wilbur and Orville Wright. When their mother died, Katharine stepped in to take over running the family household, which included corresponding with Wilbur and Orville as they traveled, both in the process of getting their first flight airborne and later, as they traveled through America and Europe. Here, she serves as the reader’s guide through the history of aviation. We learn about European aviation enthusiasts, and the race for funding and progress between the Wright Brothers – owners of a bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio – and the titled European men working toward the same cause.

Readers gets detailed names and statistics on the Wright brothers’ flyers, and a look at the frustrating mechanical failures and serious injuries, including one fatality, leading up to that first historic flight. Readers also meet historic aviators who came after the Wright Brothers, including Frank Whittle, inventor of the turbojet engine, and who came There’s an incredible amount of detail in this volume- aviation enthusiasts will love it.

An appendix with short biographies on other aviation pioneers, a biography on Katharine Wright, a glossary of aviation terms, and a list of further reading round out this volume. Providing readers with a look into history and aviation technology, Science Comics: Flying Machines is a solid add to STEM collections and reinforces the fact that comic books DO belong in the classroom.

 

Posted in Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

Science Comics Explores Bats

batsScience Comics: Bats – Learning to Fly, by Falynn Christine Koch, (Feb. 2017, First Second), $12.99, ISBN: 9781626724082

Recommended for ages 8-13

The latest volume of Science Comics introduces kids to bats. The information is pulled together with a story about a little brown bat whose wing is injured by humans on a nature hike. He’s taken to a rehabilitation center, where he meets bats of different species. Little Brown, as he’s called by the other bats, learns what the other bats eat, how they fly, live, and sadly, how their homes are invaded by humans. The information is comprehensive and there’s a call to conservation and preservation for kids, which I always appreciate.

I enjoy Science Comics because it’s easily an digestible, thorough introduction to a subject that doesn’t talk down to kids, nor does it speak over their heads. The illustrations are interesting and technically on point, and the fictional narrative that ties each volume together is interesting and fun, keeping the reader’s attention. I’ve got every issue of Science Comics (Coral Reefs, Dinosaurs, Volcanoes) so far, and Bats will join them on my shelves. I display mine with related series nonfiction, lest kids worry about a “comic book” not satisfying their research requirements, and I booktalk them every chance I get. If you’re a teacher, have these in your classroom and use them when you cover these topics – your kids will thank you.

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Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Non-Fiction, Tween Reads

Science Comics explores Volcanoes

volcanoesScience Comics: Volcanoes-Fire and Life, by Jon Chad, (Oct. 2016, First Second), $12.99, ISBN: 9781626723603

Recommended for ages 8-12

Earlier this year, we got a look at First Second’s two Science Comics, Coral Reefs and Dinosaurs. There’s great science and fun art wrapped up in each of these comics, so I was super-psyched when I met a First Second rep at the PLA Conference this year, and she told me that there were more Science Comics coming. True to her word, we’re getting Volcanoes in just a couple of weeks.

Similar to Coral Reefs, Volcanoes wraps information about volcanic activity into a story: there’s been some sort of environmental cataclysm, and Earth is freezing. A tribe is scanning books when Aurora, one of the kids, discovers a book about volcanoes; she is HOOKED. She’s saved her tribe! The power to warm the planet is right underneath their feet!

From there, Aurora becomes the reader’s guide through a look into the activity bubbling under the earth’s crust: there are magma vents, shifting tectonic plates, and volcanic eruptions. Volcanoes create just as much as they destroy: there are entire land masses that owe their existence to a volcanic eruption, just as there are entire cities that have been wiped out by them.

Posted in Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

First Second brings you Science Comics!

First Second’s got a line of Science Comics coming to stores beginning in May with the releases of Coral Reefs and Dinosaurs. The books are beautifully illustrated and bring nonfiction to the next level with information, wit, and fun for readers.

coral reefsCoral Reefs, by Maris Wicks ($9.99, ISBN: 9781626721456) introduces readers to the world of coral reefs! With an adorable fish acting as emcee and guide, readers get a look at the biology of coral, the different types of reefs, sea creatures that live in and around the reefs, and the ecological importance that the reefs play in our world. Maris Wicks, who also gave us the brilliant and informative Human Body Theater last year, is back with her combination of smart and funny writing and eye-catching, bright art.

The science is solid and there are tons of take-away facts for kids and adults alike. Did you know that some reefs take millions of years to grow?  That coral reefs are home to a quarter of all the animals found in the ocean? Wicks also discusses climate change and its impact on the environment, with emphasis ramifications like coral bleaching and ocean acidification. Anyone can help in any way; Wicks provides examples that include reducing carbon emissions (take a walk! carpool! bike ride!); reusing and recycling plastics; composting, and planting trees and flowers. There’s a great message about environmentalism and conservation to be told here, and Wicks ends on an upbeat note: “Caring for ourselves and our environment is the first step to caring for the rest of the world.” With a foreword from Randi Rotjan, Ph.D., Associate Research Scientist with the New England Aquarium, a glossary, bibliography, and additional resources, Science Comics: Coral Reefs is a great companion to any unit on the oceans, sea life, conservation, and ecology. Strongly recommended for public, school and home collections.

Check out Maris Wicks’ website for fiction and nonfiction artwork!

 

dinosaurs_cScience Comics: Dinosaurs, by award-winning author MK Reed and illustrated by Joe Flood ($9.99, ISBN: 9781626721432) takes an omniscient narrator approach, walking readers through the history of paleontology, including the many rivalries between scientists that led, in some cases, to some major classification errors, like the poor Brontosaurus, a victim of the infamous Bone Wars between paleontologists O.C. Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope, whose bitter rivalry and rush to beat one another to publishing led them to create a dinosaur that didn’t really exist – it was later discovered that an Apatosaurus body had a Camarasaurus head stuck onto the skeleton, in a rush to complete the work.

With a series of repeated timelines that show facts that society “definitely knew” at different times, we see how much we’ve really learned about the true age of the earth, the fossil record, and the origins of dinosaurs themselves. Joe Flood’s art is less cartoony than Maris Wicks, but captures the tremendous scale and brightly colored dinosaurs that we now understand roamed the earth. There are some incredible graphs and charts in here, illustrating common ancestors and evolutions. A foreword by Leonard Finkelman, Ph.D., Associate Professor in Philosophy of Science at Linfield College, plus a glossary, additional charts, and further resources make this a must-have for any dinosaur collection. Buy two – you know kids love their dinosaurs.

So much more than simple graphic novels, Science Comics is a series that deserves a place in any nonfiction section AND any graphic novel section. The next book in the series, Volcanoes, is due out in October. Recommended for ages 8 and up.

MK Reed’s author webpage has more information about the author and her books, including a link to her anthology on women gamers, Chainmail Bikini.

Sneak peek at Coral Reefs:

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Sneak peek at Dinosaurs:

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