From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up?An interesting look at meteorite ALH 84001. Chapter titles are questions, such as "How can we tell that this meteorite comes from Mars?" Text, drawings, and full-color photographs reveal techniques used by scientists to find the answers. Readers learn how meteorites are found, named, identified, and examined. Bortz focuses on the possibility of non-Earth life evidence in this particular meteorite, pointing out that the information gleaned from ALH 84001 is tantalizing, but not conclusive. Although the open layout of the book might appeal to younger readers, the vocabulary used in discussing scientific principles is appropriately complex and beyond elementary school science concepts. An extensive glossary and index add to the usefulness of the clear text; there is no pronunciation guide. The author states that because this is currently the only book on ALH 84001, no list for further reading is included. He recommends that readers pursue the same sources he used: magazine articles and the Web. However, works such as Billy Aronson's Meteors (Watts, 1996) provide explanations of meteorite formation, travel through space, arrival on Earth, and scientific examination in simple terms that can increase understanding of the concepts discussed here.?Ann G. Brouse, Big Flats Branch Library, NY
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 4^-6. The cover looks like the trailer for a vintage sf movie of the 1950s (a connection the target audience may not make), but this isn't fiction. It's solid science and intriguing scientific speculation. Crisscrossing geology, chemistry, and astronomy, Bortz delves into the hoopla and controversy surrounding the meteorite ALH 84001, which has yielded evidence suggesting the possibility that life once existed on Mars. He begins with the rock's discovery in Antarctica and goes on to describe the scientific methods used to unlock its secrets and the impact of the discovery on the scientific community. Instead of captions, a system of arrows links the many photos to the text. Although this occasionally interferes with the flow of the words, the quaint system usually works well, sometimes providing a more direct link between picture and text than captions do. A helpful glossary is included, though Bortz has done a wonderful job of explaining terms and concepts as he goes along. An author's note speaks to the lack of a bibliography (there simply isn't much on the subject yet) and refers children who want more information to the Internet. Good science that vividly explains how "a simple piece of rock can tell an amazing story." Stephanie Zvirin