A book that includes instructions for pranks and the science behind how and why they work.

An introductory note to readers explains that evidence of pranks goes back hundreds of years and that one must be sure the victim is ready to be pranked before proceeding. Four sections follow. In “Making a Mess,” pranksters are taught the science of preparing exploding ketchup and erupting cola. In “Wanna Bet?” readers learn to use cheater’s dice and play mind games that make them appear clairvoyant. “Clean Classics” are for dedicated jokesters with time to prepare stunts, such as fake spills, ahead of time. “Messing With a Mind,” which involves subjects’ psychological responses, contains the least risky and perhaps most interesting proposals. Each prank is set up with a shopping list; ratings of how funny, messy, dangerous, and scientific it is; warnings to remember; and illustrated instructions. Two-page spreads offer notes on related science topics, ideas for taking the prank to the next level, and reflection questions for readers. While the variety of pranks may offer something for everyone, the collection is heavy on messiness. The (light) science is explained in a user-friendly way, offering some benefit as a fun way to learn. Many of the pranks will annoy and, if warnings are not heeded, may damage possessions; pranksters might learn as much about reading social cues as they do about science.

Proceed with caution. (glossary) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72822-374-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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From the Giants of Science series

Hot on the heels of the well-received Leonardo da Vinci (2005) comes another agreeably chatty entry in the Giants of Science series. Here the pioneering physicist is revealed as undeniably brilliant, but also cantankerous, mean-spirited, paranoid and possibly depressive. Newton’s youth and annus mirabilis receive respectful treatment, the solitude enforced by family estrangement and then the plague seen as critical to the development of his thoughtful, methodical approach. His subsequent squabbles with the rest of the scientific community—he refrained from publishing one treatise until his rival was dead—further support the image of Newton as a scientific lone wolf. Krull’s colloquial treatment sketches Newton’s advances in clearly understandable terms without bogging the text down with detailed explanations. A final chapter on “His Impact” places him squarely in the pantheon of great thinkers, arguing that both his insistence on the scientific method and his theories of physics have informed all subsequent scientific thought. A bibliography, web site and index round out the volume; the lack of detail on the use of sources is regrettable in an otherwise solid offering for middle-grade students. (Biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-670-05921-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2006

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With breezy text and lively graphics featuring a mixed group of young people, this book answers its title question by discussing climate change, pollution, exploitation of natural resources, waste, hunger and the impact of human actions on wildlife. Topics are addressed in chapters titled with questions—“What’s the problem?” “But what about cars?” and “Why are trees important?”—and statements—“Boy, have we messed up!” The answers weave in historical background, clear explanations of the problems and some solutions. This is a more substantive treatment of the issues than its bouncy design might suggest. Sprinkled throughout are one-line eco-tips, summarized toward the end in “5 best ways to make a difference.” From time to time, boxes labeled “FACT!” offer interesting statistics and comparisons, although few sources are mentioned. A lengthy list of organizations and websites, a glossary (of words bolded in the text) and a useful index complete the package. First published in England, this emphasizes the need for international cooperation and offers a refreshing approach to a topic that is not going away. (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7641-4427-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Barron's

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2010

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