A beloved pet’s death helps a girl understand the connection between all things in this science-oriented chapter book by debut author and physicist Rogers, featuring gorgeous illustrations by Claire Rees-Jones.
Molly is sad that her beloved cat, Pickles, has died. She isn’t sure that she wants to bury him until her mother convinces her that Pickles will help flowers grow. Her mother explains how everything is made up of atoms and how some of Pickles’ atoms will be used by grass or leaves, which may then be eaten by a bug, which may in turn be eaten by a bird. Molly realizes that if she grows vegetables over where she buries her cat, then part of Pickles can go into her as well. Months later, Molly observes the flowers and eats her homegrown vegetables, which helps her deal with her grief. It also provides her parents with a starting point to continue their explanation of atoms. Her father tells her that the dinosaurs left atoms behind when they died, that people similarly leave behind their atoms and that all these atoms get reused. Rees-Jones’ fantastic illustrations capture the whimsy of Molly’s point of view and the way she envisions the planet reusing atoms from all types of plants and creatures. When Molly’s classmates later question her logic, her parents explain that Earth’s atoms originally came from stardust, translating the Big Bang theory into terms that young children can understand. Molly’s eventual conclusion—that the world is like a set of Lego bricks that gets used over and over again—is a great way to introduce this concept to young readers. The story’s main strengths are its kids’-eye view of a challenging concept and its fantastical artwork that captures the imagination and helps explore complex scientific ideas.
An excellent selection to engage young children’s imaginations with scientific topics.