Sunday, January 10, 2016

Zombies and Forces and Motion

There is a dearth of decent graphic novels about science, and certainly even fewer aimed at younger readers, so I decided to check Zombies and Forces and Motion when I got the chance. What I found was that this book is entertaining (though not really laugh out loud funny to me) and also educational. It covers a bunch of ground, from Issac Newton's laws of motion to definitions of gravity, acceleration, momentum, mass, weight, and inertia, in an amusing and engaging way. There is not really an overarching narrative, so much as there is a bunch of vignettes that illustrate scientific principles and laws with reference to a zombie apocalypse survival guide. Most of these deal with a couple of guys trying to escape from zombies by rolling downhill in a car or zombies being shunted around in the payload of a pick-up truck. Basically we have cars and zombies bouncing off each other, which makes for some compelling imagery.
And as you can see, the illustrations are great and very clear, as are the explanations of the science. Even though the subject matter is gruesome, it's in a fun, wholesome way that's not off-putting or too gross. Sure, zombie arms get pulled off, but there's no blood or gratuitous gore. Probably the worst thing I can say about this book is that it is very short and not very detailed. Still, I found it breezy and fun to read. For those looking for a quick introduction/refresher of basic scientific ideas, there are many worse places to look.

This book was made by writer Mark Weakland and artist Gervasio. Weakland is a reading specialist, educational consultant, and pretty prolific writer of books for children. Gervasio is an Argentinian illustrator who belongs to a collective called La Productora. I can't say much else about either of them, but I enjoyed their work here.

I was not able to find many reviews of this book, but the few I found spoke well of it. Diane R. Chen called it "the number one crowd pleaser among upper elementary and middle school teachers and librarians" she presents to. Daniel Kraus praised the artwork, stating, "Gervasio’s comic panels and green-faced ghouls are well above par for the typical nonfiction stab at this kind of high-interest presentation." Jessica Bingham wrote, "The illustrations are wonderful and the text is very easy for lower elementary students to understand."

Zombies and Forces and Motion was published by Capstone Press as part of their Monster Science series.  You can get more info about the book here. I plan to check out more books from this series as soon as I can.

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