LUCKY SCIENCE

ACCIDENTAL DISCOVERIES FROM GRAVITY TO VELCRO, WITH EXPERIMENTS

It's amazing how many major, and not-so-major, scientific discoveries were made by accident: penicillin, silly putty, photography, gravity, and many more. Royston Roberts (Serendipity, not reviewed) and daughter Jeanie describe a number of these accidents and provide many simple but enlightening experiments to demonstrate the various principles that arise. Kids in the recommended 10-15 age group, however, might resent instructions that seem to baby them, as when they're told to have an adult fry eggs for them to demonstrate the properties of Teflon. Still, the wealth of interesting and clearly explained information more than compensates for slights the young scientist might feel in the experiment sections. Aside from a fun and informative read, the Robertses stress that accidents like these only lead to scientific breakthroughs if one knows how to interpret them; or, as Louis Pasteur put it, ``chance favors the prepared mind.'' Young scientists are encouraged to think for themselves, to analyze and interpret, so that when serendipitous events occur they know how to make the most of them. (Glossary) (Nonfiction. 10-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 1994

ISBN: 0-471-00954-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Wiley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1994

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HOOT

The straight-arrow son of a maybe-federal agent (he’s not quite sure) turns eco-terrorist in this first offering for kids from one of detective fiction’s funniest novelists. Fans of Hiaasen’s (Basket Case, 2001, etc.) novels for adults may wonder how well his profane and frequently kinky writing will adapt to a child’s audience; the answer is, remarkably well. Roy Eberhardt has recently arrived in Florida; accustomed to being the new kid after several family moves, he is more of an observer than a participant. When he observes a bare-footed boy running through the subdivisions of Coconut Grove, however, he finds himself compelled to follow and, later, to ally himself with the strange boy called Mullet Fingers. Meanwhile, the dimwitted but appealingly dogged Officer Delinko finds himself compelled to crack the case of the mysterious vandals at the construction site of a new Mother Paula’s All-American Pancake House—it couldn’t have anything to do with those cute burrowing owls, could it? The plot doesn’t overwhelm with surprises; even the densest readers will soon suss out the connections between Mullet Fingers, the owls, and Mother Paula’s steadfast denial of the owls’ existence. The fun lies in Hiaasen’s trademark twisted characters, including Dana Matherson, the class bully who regularly beats up on Roy and whose unwitting help Roy wickedly enlists; Beatrice Leep, Mullet Fingers’s fiercely loyal sister and co-conspirator; Curly, Mother Paula’s hilariously inept foreman; and Roy’s equally straight-arrow parents, who encourage him to do the right thing without exactly telling him how. Roy is rather surprisingly engaging, given his utter and somewhat unnatural wholesomeness; it’s his kind of determined innocence that sees through the corruption and compromises of the adult world to understand what must be done to make things right. If the ending is somewhat predictable, it is also entirely satisfying—Hoot is, indeed, a hoot. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2002

ISBN: 0-375-82181-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2002

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SCAT

During a field trip to Black Vine Swamp, a suspicious “wildfire” breaks out, and much-feared and -reviled science teacher Mrs. Starch vanishes. The school gets a letter stating she is away on a “family emergency,” but no one believes that. Nick Waters and his friend Marta Gonzales are sure bad-boy Duane “Smoke” Scrod, Jr., is to blame for both fire and disappearance. However, there’s more to Duane, Mrs. Starch and the fire than Nick or Marta could ever imagine. This is Hiaasen Country, so the complications include a rare Florida panther, a crooked oil company, a tree-hugging Hayduke of a millionaire and a couple of well-meaning-but-not-as-swift-as-the-kids detectives. Hiaasen’s third outing for young readers might be a little slow in pacing and the character types might be recognizable to experienced readers, but fans of Hoot and Flush (2002, 2005) will not be disappointed by this funny, believable, environmentally friendly tween thriller. (Thriller. 10-15)

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-375-83486-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2008

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