From The Guide: Good Scientist Books

The following reviews are from The Horn Book Guide and The Horn Book Guide Online. To find even more good books about scientists, look to the Guide subject index and the Guide Online fully searchable database. For more information about subscribing to the Guide and the Guide Online, please visit

Buchmann, Stephen Honey Bees: Letters from the Hive
213 pp. Delacorte 2010. ISBN 978-0-385-73770-8
LE isbn 978-0-385-90683-8

YA In this adaptation of his adult book Letters from the Hive, bee scientist and beekeeper Buchmann details the history of humans and honey. The informative text touches on such topics as technological developments in beekeeping, bee species around the world, and medicinal and economic uses of honey. Buchmann also offers personal musings on beekeeping and honey varieties. Some recipes are included.

Claybourne, Anna Who Discovered Natural Selection?
46 pp. Arcturus 2010. LE ISBN 978-1-84837-682-3

Claybourne, Anna Who Split the Atom?
46 pp. Arcturus 2010. LE ISBN 978-1-84837-683-0

Saunders, Nigel Who Invented the Periodic Table?
46 pp. Arcturus 2010. LE ISBN 978-1-84837-680-9

Vaughan, Jenny Who Discovered DNA?
46 pp. Arcturus 2010. LE ISBN 978-1-84837-679-3

Gr. 4–6 Breakthroughs in Science and Technology series. Clearly and substantively, these books trace their subjects’ histories. Each spread addresses a subtopic, and the texts read smoothly; the many sidebars, photos, and biographical sketches are well integrated. The answer to the title question is, of course, many different people — increasingly, in collaboration.

Connolly, Sean The Book of Potentially Catastrophic Science: 50 Experiments for Daring Young Scientists
306 pp. Workman 2010. ISBN 978-0-7611-5687-1

YA This engaging title challenges readers to follow a timeline of scientific discovery, first by learning and then by doing. From the Stone Age and the creation of tools to the present-day study of the Big Bang theory, this thorough introduction presents the whys, whos, and hows of innovation, followed by scientific experiments for hands-on learning. Budding scientists will enjoy this clever offering.

Krull, Kathleen Charles Darwin
144 pp. Viking 2010. ISBN 978-0-670-06335-2

Gr. 4–6 Illustrated by Boris Kulikov. Giants of Science series. Krull makes no bones about Darwin’s influence: “Publication day [for On the Origin of Species]…is considered the birthday of modern biology.” A useful introduction previews his life and accomplishments, acquainting readers with both the man and the scientist. Krull’s lively writing fleshes out these points, particularly emphasizing Darwin’s uncertainty about publication. Kulikov’s occasional art brings humor and drama to this brisk account.

Murawski, Darlyne A. Face to Face with Butterflies
32 pp. National Geographic Books 2010. ISBN 978-1-4263-0618-1

Skerry, Brian Face to Face with Manatees
32 pp. National Geographic Books 2010. ISBN 978-1-4263-0616-7

Gr. 4–6 Face to Face with Animals series. Murawski and Skerry describe their experiences photographing the title creatures. The authors’ intimate studies lead readers to a broader understanding and appreciation of the animals. Detailed information, including sidebars (e.g., “How to attract butterflies”) and “Facts at a Glance” will intrigue budding lepidopterists and marine biologists. Crisp photographs — such as pictures of Skerry’s eleven-year-old daughter swimming with manatees — add appeal.

Rubalcaba, Jill and Robertshaw, Peter Every Bone Tells a Story: Hominin Discoveries, Deductions, and Debates
185 pp. Charlesbridge 2010. ISBN 978-1-58089-164-6

YA This book covers four famous cases of human fossil remains: Turkana Boy, Lapedo Child, Kennewick Man, and Iceman. The engaging text first reconstructs each individual’s death then describes the eventual discovery of his bones; debates surrounding the analysis of evidence are telling in regard to the scientific process. Some photographs and maps are included.

Skurzynski, Gloria This Is Rocket Science: True Stories of the Risk-Taking Scientists Who Figure Out Ways to Explore Beyond Earth
80 pp. National Geographic Books 2010. ISBN 978-1-4263-0597-9
LE ISBN 978-1-4263-0598-6

Gr. 4–6 Skurzynski outlines the history of rocketry, covering its origins in Chinese uses of gunpowder, the advances of the “Fathers of Modern Rocketry,” the mid-twentieth-century war research of German, Soviet, and American scientists, and current and future private and government-funded rocket research. Crisp color and black-and-white illustrations include both historical and contemporary space shuttle/rocket images and future space vehicles.

Wittenstein, Vicki Oransky Planet Hunter: Geoff Marcy and the Search for Other Earths
48 pp. Boyds 2010. ISBN 978-1-59078-592-8

Gr. 4–6 The question of life on other planets fuels this detailed examination of the work of Geoff Marcy. His research focuses on locating planets at great distances from us and determining if they resemble Earth. Wittenstein deftly captures the essence of one research community while giving attention to competing methodological approaches. The excellent color illustrations include photographs, diagrams, and artistic renderings.

From the March/April 2011 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
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