To be used, with caution, by adult and child together.

EAT YOUR SCIENCE HOMEWORK

RECIPES FOR INQUIRING MINDS

Science concepts are appetizingly presented with relevant recipes.

The math-teaching author of Eat Your Math Homework, also illustrated by Hernandez (2011), follows up with six edible demonstrations of scientific ideas from chemistry, forensic science, geology and astrophysics. The connection is sometimes straightforward (Sedimentary Pizza Lasagna does retain the layers of sedimentary rock) but sometimes not. Three Atomic Popcorn Balls will make a model water molecule, but what do you do with the other balls? You’d need more colors than the suggested two to make many other kinds of molecules. The fingerprints pressed into the edges of Loop, Whorl, and Arch Cookies will disappear in the cooking process. The science explanations aren’t clear, either. A lengthy description of invisible ink mentions the chemical change involved, but it also covers the differences between acids and bases and both the chemical and the physical reactions demonstrated by Invisible Ink Snack Pockets. All this is relevant, perhaps, but confusing to children who have never encountered any of this before. An indentation in stretchy space is a theoretical explanation for the gravity of everything, not just black holes. The recipes have problems, too. The sausage should be precooked before being placed in the Black Hole Swallow-Up Muffins, and the recipe for sugar cookies calls for rolling out the dough without pre-chilling it, making it a recipe for a mess.

To be used, with caution, by adult and child together. (Nonfiction. 7-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-57091-298-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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Charming, poignant, and thoughtfully woven.

CLUES TO THE UNIVERSE

An aspiring scientist and a budding artist become friends and help each other with dream projects.

Unfolding in mid-1980s Sacramento, California, this story stars 12-year-olds Rosalind and Benjamin as first-person narrators in alternating chapters. Ro’s father, a fellow space buff, was killed by a drunk driver; the rocket they were working on together lies unfinished in her closet. As for Benji, not only has his best friend, Amir, moved away, but the comic book holding the clue for locating his dad is also missing. Along with their profound personal losses, the protagonists share a fixation with the universe’s intriguing potential: Ro decides to complete the rocket and hopes to launch mementos of her father into outer space while Benji’s conviction that aliens and UFOs are real compels his imagination and creativity as an artist. An accident in science class triggers a chain of events forcing Benji and Ro, who is new to the school, to interact and unintentionally learn each other’s secrets. They resolve to find Benji’s dad—a famous comic-book artist—and partner to finish Ro’s rocket for the science fair. Together, they overcome technical, scheduling, and geographical challenges. Readers will be drawn in by amusing and fantastical elements in the comic book theme, high emotional stakes that arouse sympathy, and well-drawn character development as the protagonists navigate life lessons around grief, patience, self-advocacy, and standing up for others. Ro is biracial (Chinese/White); Benji is White.

Charming, poignant, and thoughtfully woven. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-300888-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph.

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WISHTREE

Generations of human and animal families grow and change, seen from the point of view of the red oak Wishing Tree that shelters them all.

Most trees are introverts at heart. So says Red, who is over 200 years old and should know. Not to mention that they have complicated relationships with humans. But this tree also has perspective on its animal friends and people who live within its purview—not just witnessing, but ultimately telling the tales of young people coming to this country alone or with family. An Irish woman named Maeve is the first, and a young 10-year-old Muslim girl named Samar is the most recent. Red becomes the repository for generations of wishes; this includes both observing Samar’s longing wish and sporting the hurtful word that another young person carves into their bark as a protest to Samar’s family’s presence. (Red is monoecious, they explain, with both male and female flowers.) Newbery medalist Applegate succeeds at interweaving an immigrant story with an animated natural world and having it all make sense. As Red observes, animals compete for resources just as humans do, and nature is not always pretty or fair or kind. This swiftly moving yet contemplative read is great for early middle grade, reluctant or tentative readers, or precocious younger students.

A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-04322-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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