First Second is celebrating their tenth anniversary with a bang, introducing a new series called Science Comics. Each volume has a different focus, and they have some top notch creators lined up for these titles. The first two just came out, and they contain lots of information, vocabulary, and features that make them ready for classroom use. Also, they take different approaches to their storytelling and I found them both great in different ways.
Maris Wicks. I had read and enjoyed her prior book Human Body Theater as well as her collaboration with Jim Ottaviani Primates, and they were both excellent. This one focuses on marine biology, obviously, and I was impressed by two things off the bat: the bright, expressive, info-rich artwork and the gentle narration provided by a bespectacled bony fish.
As you can see this book contains lots of facts about coral reefs, but it also gets into other territory like ecology, climate change, and environmental factors that affect marine life. I think it would have been impressive to simply detail as much as this book has about underwater plants and animals, but it goes the extra mile to place all of these organisms in a larger context. I am glad to see how it engaged in serious issues that involve the future of planet Earth in thoughtful and documented ways. Overall, it is quite exceptional how the narrative, exposition, and artwork range back and forth from simple to complex as the author entertains and explains throughout the book.
The reviews I have read about this book have been glowing. Johanna Draper Carlson concluded, "I had no idea there was so much to know about coral reefs. While
obviously targeted at the educational market, this comic is a good read
for all ages." Sarah Stevenson wrote that "I personally learned a lot, was reminded of knowledge I hadn't thought about in a while, and enjoyed myself in the process." Kevin wrote, "Unlike some content-area graphic novels out there in the world (and I
have read more than my share) that seem thrown together to make a buck
off the graphic novel movement, Coral Reefs: Cities of the Ocean seems more like an act of love by someone who is deeply immersed in the ocean." Let's hope Maris Wicks has lots of oxygen with her, if that is the case (Smile).
I think that it is difficult for a book like this to make an impression
about a well-covered topic like dinosaurs, but it manages to do just
that with extensive research and an excellent synthesis of multiple
fields and studies. It will change how you look at birds, or at least I
know it has
for me. Those cute feathered things might just be tiny decedents of
velociraptors. And the book also puts a human face on those who have studied these "terrible lizards." That parade of strong personalities is as engaging as all the facts and beautiful pictures.
MK Reed and Joe Flood is seamless and rich. I very much enjoyed their prior book, The Cute Girl Network, and I am happy to say that they are maybe more adept at nonfiction as they are at fiction. There is certainly a lot of ground covered in this book, and there was much I found new, exciting, and interesting.
The reviews about this book were more mixed, though I have to say that I felt I enjoyed it just a tad bit more than the corals reefs volume. Johanna Draper Carlson felt that it tried to tackle too much and wrote, "There’s a lot more history, a lot less animal study than one might think here. And this book needs its own annotation guide!" The folks at The Comics Alternative called it "a great non-fiction graphic novel that entertains and instructs. It can
also be enjoyed by a wide range of ages, giving younger readers a great,
fun look at dinosaurs, and providing older readers with the history of
dinosaur research and discovery."
Both volumes of Science Comics were published by First Second and you can find previews and much more here (for Coral Reefs) and here (for Dinosaurs). I feel these are both excellent books and an auspicious start to this series. I am eager to see the future volumes, which include books on bats and volcanoes.
Thank you, Gina, for the review copies!