Saturday, February 16, 2019

Review - Super Scientists: 40 inspiring icons

Super Scientists: 40 inspiring icons
by Anne Blanchard
illustrated by Tino
Date: 2019
Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book non-fiction
Pages: 96
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Each '40 Inspiring Icons' title introduces readers to a fascinating non-fiction subject through its 40 most famous people or groups. In this book, 40 of the most inquiring minds in science are waiting to showcase their big ideas. Find out how these scientists spent their lives asking questions and making leaps and bounds in the world of science and technology. Perfect for the budding scientist.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This book is pretty much a wreck from start to finish. The illustrations are ugly. The text is riddled with typos and missing spaces. It also has a number of outright errors. I don't even know who wrote this thing! The front cover credits Anne Blanchard and Tino, but the first page lists Hervé Guilleminot and Jérôme Masi (they wrote and illustrated another book in the series, so maybe that's yet another error). Seriously... this is one of the sloppiest non-fiction books for kids I've ever read.

Let's look at some of my notes:

Oh, yes. The text states that Alexander the Great brought things back from his travels to his friend Aristotle. Apparently, Alexander the Great made it to the Americas at some point, because the illustration shows him gifting a saguaro cactus!

Zhang Heng is credited with being the first person to realize that the moon reflects light from the sun. Except--oops!--the book already credited Thales with that.

Eggs don't have "yokes". I shouldn't have to explain this one.

The page on Descartes is just confusing. He's supposedly all about "reason"... but then he's also apparently convinced that there's an "evil demon" running around affecting our perceptions. Sounds... reasonable?

Right. The locations. If anyone was born in England (no matter when), the book listed the location as Great Britain. But if they were born in Scotland, the location was... Scotland. (Yeah, I don't get it, either. Since when is Scotland not part of Great Britain?) And then the book goes on to make mention of someone being born in the Czech Republic... in 1884. Pick a convention and stick to it: either use the location names as they were at the time, or use all current location names. Don't mix and match.

The Pasteur page is disgusting, ignoring his ethical issues and continuing to help him steal credit for other people's work. He was not the first to come up with the idea of washing hands to prevent disease. Credit for that should go to Ignaz Semmelweis... but he's not even mentioned. (The poor guy never got any credit in his own lifetime, either, and was laughed out of medicine for daring to suggest that maybe doctors should wash their hands between doing autopsies and delivering babies.) Pasteur also practiced medicine on children without a medical licence. But I guess including that would've made him look like kind of a dick.

The book is also heavily skewed toward males. There are seven women in this book, and thirty-three men... which is bad enough. It gets even worse when we get to Rosalind Franklin, who helped discover the structure of DNA. Her page has ten little blurbs of information... but only six are actually about her. The other four are about the men who stole the credit for her work and (rather ironically) about how women are overlooked in science in general!

The information that is included in the text is also kind of weak. Sometimes it's so vague that it doesn't even seem to apply to the person that's being talked about. When I read a book like this, I want information about the people... not vague, random tidbits about tangentially related stuff.

This book was apparently published in French first, but that's no excuse for the absolutely shoddy translation. I mean, the translation itself isn't terrible, but the resulting text is so full of typos that I question whether it was actually done by a human.

Faraday also discovered that an element called red benzene, transformed chlorine gas into a liquid, created optical glasses, light and wrote chemistry textbooks!

Well, that's clear as mud.

Aside from sentences that don't make any sense, at least one just sort of ends in mid thought:

Darwin went further still when he claimed that humans and monkeys share a common ancestor which.

Which... what? Don't leave me hanging!

I expect a lot more from non-fiction, especially in books aimed at children. There's no way I'd give this one to a child, no matter how interested they are in science. There are other, better books out there, ones that have better editing and don't relegate women to the shadows of history (while simultaneously complaining about doing that very thing).

Not recommended.

Thank you to NetGalley and Wide Eyed Editions for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 1/5
Illustrations: 1/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 0/5

Overall: 1 out of 5

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