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

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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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Thought-provoking and charming.

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THE WILD ROBOT

A sophisticated robot—with the capacity to use senses of sight, hearing, and smell—is washed to shore on an island, the only robot survivor of a cargo of 500.

When otters play with her protective packaging, the robot is accidently activated. Roz, though without emotions, is intelligent and versatile. She can observe and learn in service of both her survival and her principle function: to help. Brown links these basic functions to the kind of evolution Roz undergoes as she figures out how to stay dry and intact in her wild environment—not easy, with pine cones and poop dropping from above, stormy weather, and a family of cranky bears. She learns to understand and eventually speak the language of the wild creatures (each species with its different “accent”). An accident leaves her the sole protector of a baby goose, and Roz must ask other creatures for help to shelter and feed the gosling. Roz’s growing connection with her environment is sweetly funny, reminiscent of Randall Jarrell’s The Animal Family. At every moment Roz’s actions seem plausible and logical yet surprisingly full of something like feeling. Robot hunters with guns figure into the climax of the story as the outside world intrudes. While the end to Roz’s benign and wild life is startling and violent, Brown leaves Roz and her companions—and readers—with hope.

Thought-provoking and charming. (Science fiction/fantasy. 7-11)

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-38199-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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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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