Monday, February 13, 2012

Meltdown! a review

Bortz, Fred. 2012. Meltdown! The Nuclear Disaster in Japan and our Energy Future. New York: Lerner.
(Advance Review Copy provided by NetGalley)

Last week, if you asked me to explain the processes and dangers inherent in the creation of nuclear energy, I would be hard-pressed to offer more than a rudimentary explanation.  After reading Meltdown! however, I marveled at how easily I grasped the entire process.  Physicist and author, Dr. Fred Bortz, has a distinct talent for distilling a complex subject into an easily understood concept.

In a compact, colorful book, complete with numerous illustrations and photographs, Fred Bortz recounts the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, sandwiched between solid scientific facts and a global view of the world's energy needs. The reader is left shocked by the massive destruction caused when a natural disaster causes a man-made one of nearly equal proportion. However, the purpose of Meltdown! is not to shock the reader, but to make him think.  Yes, this was a terrible disaster, but what are the alternatives?  Can the world's energy needs be powered by solar? by wind? by coal? by oil?  No, they can't - at least not now.  The readers of Meltdown! (recommended for ages 11-17) will be the decision makers of the world within a few short years. Meltdown! will challenge them to see that the world's problems do not always have easy answers. 

This seems to be the time of year that teachers are assigning many biography and nonfiction reading assignments.  If this were on my shelves now, I would be recommending it highly, though sadly, many teachers will likely dismiss Meltdown! as a book report choice because of the number of its pages, 64. (This gives me a meltdown, as minimum page requirements give me "Minimum Rage.")

This should be required reading, offering an easily understood lesson in nuclear energy, a factual account of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster caused by the massive Japanese earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, and extensive references and supplemental materials.

Teachers, check the Fred Bortz website for great resources including news stories, videos, and classroom connections.

Due on shelves March 1, 2012 - in time for the one-year anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown.

It's Nonfiction Monday. Today's roundup is at Wrapped in Foil.


  1. How fabulous to have this right now...and thank you, too, for the link.

  2. I will be looking at this one right away. My disaster book section could use so me fresh titles.

  3. This is very timely for us here in Japan. I will look for it, even though I'd rather bury my head in the sand.

  4. Love the cover. Sounds like a great addition for the Doucette Library (curriculum library at University of Calgary). Thanks for the recommendation.
    Apples with Many Seeds

  5. I just discovered this review. Thank you for your kind words. As the anniversary of the meltdowns approaches, I'll be doing a blog tour, which I think your readers will appreciate.

    I'll be posting information about that (as well more about Meltdown! and my other books as other scientific stuff that I find interesting and appealing) at my Facebook author page (linked to my name here). I'm collecting "likes" there.

  6. Thank you for stopping by. I will “like” you forthwith.

  7. For Ms. Yingling: Thanks for your interest. You might also want to get Elaine Landau's Oil Spill! Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico (Millbrook, 2011, 32pp.) if you don't have it already. I used it as an exemplar while writing Meltdown! It was just named a Booklist Top Ten Book about the Environment for Young Readers.

    As "shelf-employed" said about my book, there is a lot packed into those 32 pages and it works well for older readers who normally look for longer books.


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