Some Penguin Problems

When Kate learns that her class is going on a field trip to the aquarium, she is thrilled that she’ll get to see the penguin exhibit! The rockhopper penguins are her favorite. To prepare, Ms. Eberlin assigns the class a project: each student has to do a report about a different animal at the aquarium. Even though Kate gets assigned sea lions, she’s still thrilled to go. Kate, Birdie, and the rest of the class excitedly prepare for their projects until it’s finally Aquarium Day! But then a huge snowstorm threatens to ruin the class’s field trip. Will the snow and ice force the school to cancel the field trip?

When the teacher announces the field trip, she explains the need to have volunteers to chaperone. The lack of volunteers and the weather forecast drive much of the plot. However, Kate’s desire to report on penguins instead of sea lions also adds conflict, partly because Kate wants her classmate to switch topics with her. At times Kate seems like a know-it-all because she uses her knowledge of penguins to prove that she should be doing her report on them. However, in the end, Kate learns to appreciate sea lions and apologizes to her classmates.

The book’s short chapters all begin with definitions of science words such as statistics, sodium, and convection. Simple black and white illustrations appear every 1 to 3 pages. While the illustrations help break up the text, they will not help readers understand the plot or visualize the characters. The book concludes with a recipe to make chocolate-covered pretzels. The last pages of the book show Biberdorf’s other books, The Big Book of Experiments and The Awesome Book of Edible Experiments for Kids.

Some Penguin Problems is an entertaining book with a main character that isn’t perfect but strives to do what is right. In this book, Kate is presented with a dilemma, and in the end, decides to keep a promise even though it means giving up something she really wants. Plus, Kate’s story is packed full of science and animal facts. Biberdorf uses kid-friendly examples and explanations to explain how chemistry is used in everyone’s daily lives. The story also depicts healthy family relationships through Kate’s interactions with her brother and parents.

Science and animal-loving readers will enjoy Some Penguin Problems because of the relatable conflicts and the interesting facts. Through Kate’s experiences, readers will learn the importance of being able to adapt and change. Kate explains, “It was sometimes important to adapt. Even if some of the changes weren’t what you wanted.” Despite the book’s positive aspects, readers who are not interested in science might find the focus on science a little overwhelming. Readers who want to expand their science knowledge should also read the Girls Who Code Series by Stacia Deutsch.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • At the aquarium, the students see a blind sea lion that “had shrapnel in his eyes because he had been shot.”

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Ty’s Travels: Lab Magic

Corey and Ty take an exciting trip to the museum, where they get to be scientists. First, they study bugs. Then, they study the wind. Ty is disappointed when he discovers that he is too little to do science experiments at the museum. But Ty doesn’t let that spoil his day.

Once Corey and Ty get home, Momma helps them set up a science experiment that is perfect for younger kids. Before they begin, Corey and Ty make sure they are safe by putting on a lab coat (Dad’s shirt), goggles, and gloves. With their parents’ help, Corey and Ty learn that they like being scientists.

Lab Magic is part of the My First I Can Read Series, which uses basic language, word repetition, and illustrations that are ideal for emergent readers. Each page has one to four simple sentences with large, brightly colored illustrations. The illustrations will introduce different types of science such as using test tubes or learning about butterflies. Plus, the pictures will help young readers understand the plot.

Young readers who are learning how to read will enjoy Lab Magic. The short sentences and large illustrations make the story accessible to emergent readers. Like the other books in Ty’s Travels Series, Lab Magic shows Ty’s two-parent family in a positive light. Readers will enjoy learning about Ty’s adventure and all of the different ways science can be studied. For more science fun, check out Cece Loves Science by Kimberly Derting & Shelli R. Johannes.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

The Great Escape

What do magnetic slime, a secret code, and the periodic table have in common? They’re all part of the science-themed escape room that Kate’s science teacher puts on for their class. Will Kate and her friends be able to use their science know-how to crack the code before time runs out?

The Great Escape begins with conflicts that everyone can relate to: friendship drama, arguing with a classmate, and competition. Kate and her class are broken up into groups in order to complete a science project. The group that wins gets to show the whole school how to make a pumpkin vomit. Kate is determined that her group will win, but when Kate and another classmate get into a tug-of-war over pliers, both groups are forced to stay after school and complete an escape room which will require everyone to work together.

The escape room involves helping the legendary scientist, Rosalind Franklin, who was “a science superhero who used X-rays to take images of DNA.” As Kate and the other kids try to solve the escape room’s mystery, they learn about Rosalind Franklin and other chemistry facts. The kids also learn the importance of working together. Even though the kids rely on science to escape the room, there is enough dialogue and spooky situations to keep the story entertaining.

The short chapters all begin with definitions of science words such as deoxyribonucleic acid, condenser, and double helix. Simple black and white illustrations appear every 1 to 3 pages. While the illustrations help break up the text, they will not help readers understand the plot or visualize the characters. The book ends with instructions on how to make magnetic slime. The book includes some other experiments, but there are no instructions on how to perform those experiments. Even though The Great Escape is the second book in the series, each book can be read as a stand-alone.

The second installment of the Kate the Chemist Series focuses less on science and more on peer relationships, which makes the story interesting. The arguing between the girl’s group and the boy’s group is realistic and relatable, and the fall theme gives the story a hint of spooky suspense. The Great Escape will appeal to a large range of readers, not just those interested in science. If you’re looking for a book that may spark readers’ interest in science, The Great Escape would be a good choice.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • Kate’s mother takes Tylenol for a headache.

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

The Great Shark Escape

Mrs. Frizzle is teaching her students about ocean life, and her students must complete a report about an ocean creature. Arnold isn’t too happy about the assignment because ocean creatures can be dangerous. When Mrs. Frizzle announces a field trip to an aquarium, Arnold is relieved that the class will not be doing anything daring. But when the class arrives at the aquarium, they discover it had to close because of a flood.

Despite this, Mrs. Frizzle is determined to teach the students about the ocean, so the magic school bus takes the class into the ocean. They end up face-to-face with all kinds of sharks, from great whites to goblin sharks. Then, when things get scary and the class is really swimming in trouble, you’d never guess who helps the class make the great shark escape!

The Great Shark Escape is an exciting story with plenty of suspense. Arnold tells the story and his dislike of danger adds some humor. Black and white illustrations appear every 1 to 3 pages. The illustrations show Mrs. Frizzle’s students, who are a diverse group, under the sea, which will help readers understand the plot. In addition, a sketch of each shark allows the readers to see the differences between each shark.

Shark-loving kids will enjoy a trip into the open ocean to learn all about sharks. Throughout the story, Mrs. Fizzle’s students’ reports appear on notebook paper. Each section is about one paragraph long and contains information about specific sharks as well as general shark information. Readers will learn about a huge variety of ocean life including the whale shark, the great white shark, the angel shark, the goblin shark, and the hammerhead shark. Even though all of the shark information is interesting, some readers may have a hard time jumping from the story to the shark facts and back.

The high-interest topic and the fun format of The Great Shark Escape will appeal to readers. While Arnold’s narration shows his fear of sharks, in the end, Arnold’s bravery allows him to save the class. The Great Shark Escape uses an entertaining story to teach about sharks. Because each book in The Magic School Bus focuses on different topics, readers will never get bored with the series. Shark-loving readers can learn more about sharks by reading Shark Lady by Jess Keating.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • The magic school bus narrowly avoids getting eaten by a shark.

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • The magic school bus transforms into a helicopter and then a submarine. “Not only was the sub going down deep, it was shrinking and so were we! Now the sub was only two feet long.”

Spiritual Content

  • None

Charlotte the Scientist Finds a Cure

A mysterious malady has swept through the forest, making the woodland creatures sick. Luckily, Charlotte the Scientist is on the case! She’s determined to find a cure using science. But the grownups don’t take her work seriously, and examining animals of all shapes and sizes with upset tummies can be, well. . . challenging.

In the second installment of the Charlotte the Scientist Series, Charlotte’s big bunny family gets even larger when Grandpa moves in. Grandpa helps and encourages Charlotte in her scientific endeavors. When the forest animals get sick, Charlotte is determined to discover the cause. When the adults begin examining patients, they tell Charlotte, “Run along, little one. This is grown-up work.” Charlotte is discouraged, but when she thinks back to her grandpa’s words, they give her the courage to continue looking for a cure. In the end, “Charlotte realized she didn’t need to be the oldest or smartest. She had stopped the sickness, cured the carrots, and saved the forest!”

Charlotte the Scientist Finds a Cure moves away from Charlotte’s family life and shows how Charlotte makes a difference in her community. The story’s illustrations bring the forest to life by using bright colors. Charlotte’s large family and a host of forest animals crowd the scenes, which brim with activity. However, Charlotte is easy to recognize because she always has a white lab coat. Even though the story focuses on a serious topic, many of the illustrations are humorous.

The forest animals’ illnesses help incorporate the scientific method and introduce scientific vocabulary. In addition, to discover the cause of the sickness Charlotte collects and analyzes data. This is how she finds the “funky forest fungi” that is making everyone sick. Charlotte also cures the carrots, conducts a clinical trial, and is able to “mend the malady.” While it’s unrealistic that one scientist could accomplish all of that, Charlotte’s activities allow her to be the story’s hero.

Even though Charlotte the Scientist Finds a Cure is a picture book, readers will need an adult to read the story to them. The story is packed full of alliteration that makes reading aloud fun. Each page has 1 to 4 sentences, but younger readers may have difficultly understanding some of the scientific vocabulary. In the back of the book, readers will find a glossary of scientific words. While the solution to the forest animals’ “malady” is complex, it gives the story many topics that parents or teachers could discuss.

Charlotte the Scientist Finds a Cure uses humor and a determined bunny to teach readers about illnesses and the process that takes place to find a cure. While the plot is ambitious, young readers will be enthralled with Charlotte and her world. Charlotte the Scientist Finds a Cure would be an excellent addition to your library, whether you’re looking for a fun book to read to your children or you want a book that is a springboard to teaching about illness.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

Charlotte the Scientist Is Squished

Charlotte is a serious scientist. She solves important problems by following the scientific method. She has all the right equipment: protective glasses, a lab coat, a clipboard, and a magnifying glass. But Charlotte has a problem: she needs more room.

Charlotte has so many brothers and sisters (she is a rabbit, after all) that she is too squished to work on her experiments! Can she use science to solve her problem?

Charlotte introduces readers to her 13 brothers and sisters and to the five steps of the scientific method. Charlotte’s dilemma comes to life in bright, humorous, full-colored illustrations. Even though each page is packed with adorable bunnies, Charlotte is easy to recognize because she always has on her safety glasses. Readers will enjoy counting all of Charlotte’s siblings, who are a bit rambunctious.

Charlotte decides to use the scientific method to answer her question: How can I get some space around here? Readers will giggle as Charlotte conducts her experiments and feel joy when Charlotte finds peace and quiet on the moon. Once there, she discovers that being alone is lonely. But Charlotte’s solution to her loneliness brings the story to a sweet conclusion.

Charlotte the Scientist is Squished will entertain and delight young readers who will want to read the book over and over. Charlotte has a relatable conflict and is a determined, funny main character. The story uses humor to introduce readers to the scientific method. However, this science-based book also is a story about her family, who can be annoying but also bring joy to Charlotte.

Each page of the picture book has 1 to 4 sentences. Because some of the sentences and vocabulary are complex, young readers will need an adult to read Charlotte the Scientist Is Squished to them. The end of the book explains how Charlotte followed the scientific method to solve her problem.

Charlotte the Scientist Is Squished is a wonderfully illustrated picture book that young readers will love. Adults will appreciate the story’s educational value. Another amazing picture book readers will enjoy is Mars Needs Moms by Berkeley Breathed. Both stories use humor to show the importance of family.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

Cece Loves Science: Push and Pull

Ms. Curie wants her class to conduct an experiment. The class is going to learn about forces that move objects in different ways. Cece is extra excited because her dog, Einstein, is going to be part of the experiment. Cece is partnered with three of her classmates, including her friend Isaac.

Ms. Curie gives each group supplies that include a toy dump truck, a marble, dominoes and doggie treats. The group works together until they find the best way to use all of their supplies. Einstein helps too! After trying different things, the kids build a contraption that gives Einstein a doggie treat.

Push and Pull introduces the concept of force and motion in a child-friendly way that is easy to understand. The story uses several examples and also gives examples of how readers can have fun with push and pull. The end of the book has a four-word glossary. Push and Pull is intended for independent readers who are ready for complex plots and challenging vocabulary. Each page has 2 to 6 short sentences which makes it accessible to young readers.

Push and Pull introduces science in an engaging way. Cece and her group work together and everyone contributes. Readers will love Einstein, who also shows how push and pull work. Each page has large, brightly colored illustrations that show the science experiment in action. By the end of the book, readers will be ready to try an experiment of their own.

With lots of examples and positive classroom behavior Push and Pull would make an excellent pick for any beginning reader. The Cece Loves Science Series will encourage readers to be curious about their world. Those looking for more science related fun should add the Jada Jones Series by Kelly Starling Lyons to their reading list.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Click’d #1

Allie Navarro can’t wait to show her best friends the app she built at CodeGirls summer camp. Click’d pairs users based on common interests and sends them on a fun (and occasionally rule-breaking) scavenger hunt to find each other. And it’s a hit. By the second day of school, everyone is talking about Click’d.

Watching her app go viral is amazing. Leaderboards are filling up! Everyone’s making new friends. And with all the data Allie is collecting, she has an even better shot at beating her archenemy, Nathan, at the upcoming youth coding competition.

But when Allie discovers a glitch that threatens to expose everyone’s secrets, she has to figure out how to make things right, even if that means sharing the computer lab with Nathan. Can Allie fix her app, stop it from doing any more damage, and win back the friends it hurt-all before she steps on stage to present Click’d to the judges?

Click’d is an engaging story that mixes coding, middle-school drama, and competition between Allie and her archenemy. Readers will relate to Allie who loves the positive attention she gets because others love playing her game, Click’d. The glitch in her code highlights Allie’s desire to win the completion versus her desire to do the right thing—shut the app down until she can fix the code. Throughout her experiences, Allie learns important lessons about friendship including that “clicking” with people in real life is always the most important thing.

In the end, Allie does the right thing—she shuts Click’d down and withdraws from the competition. Even though this makes Allie feel like a failure, the adults in her life—her parents, her coding teacher, and the principal—let Allie know that they are proud of her because of her dedication and hard work. Allie’s coding teacher tells her, “I am so proud of you. . . For building your app. For working all week to fix it. For being here in the pavilion. I’ve never been so proud of one of my students.” The story reinforces the idea that mistakes are nothing to be ashamed of.

Click’d will inspire middle school readers to be brave enough to try new things, whether it be talking to a classmate, going to a camp, or joining a competition. The story has the perfect amount of friendship drama, internal conflict, and crushes. The conclusion has a few unexpected twists and a sweet, hopeful ending. Click’d is the perfect book for middle school readers not only because of the engaging plot but also because the story reinforces the importance of forgiveness and being open to making new friends. Readers who love books about smart girls who can code should add Emmy in the Key of Code by Aimee Lucido to their reading list.

Sexual Content

  • Click’d posted a screenshot of a private conversation, where Emma talked about her crush. When the picture is circulated around school, Emma is upset because “People keep making kiss noises at me.”

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • “Oh my God” is used as an exclamation four times. For example, when Maddie tries Click’d, she says, “Oh My God, this is so insanely fun.”
  • When people start making fun of Emma, Allie says that the people are jerks.
  • Darn is used once.

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

The Doctor With An Eye for Eyes: The Story of Dr. Patricia Bath

When Patricia Bath was little, she loved playing with boys and doing everything her big brother did. A girl coming of age during the Civil Rights Movement, Patricia, who was African American, was determined to be a doctor even though most were men. The only nearby high school was only for white kids, but this didn’t stop Patricia from graduating high school and going on to college.

While at college, Patricia meets unfair restrictions, but she is determined to help blind people. During her time as a doctor, she teaches others about the eye and starts an eye doctor training program. Patricia eventually develops a laser probe that “fixed the eyeballs of patients all over the globe.”

Patricia didn’t let racism, sexism, or poverty get in the way of her goal. Her story will inspire readers to reach for their dreams. The story ends with this thought: “So, if helping the world seems too hard, you are wrong. If some say you can’t do it, don’t listen. Be STRONG. Like Patricia, stay FOCUSED. Push FORWARD. Shine BRIGHT. . . And you’ll find all your dreams will be well within SIGHT!”

Each page of the picture book has 2 to 4 rhyming lines. Some of the words have added emphasis and appear in all caps. Each page uses colorful illustrations to bring Patricia’s world to life. Some illustrations show how Patricia faced discrimination. Even though The Doctor With An Eye for Eyes is a picture book, the story is intended to be read aloud to a child, rather than for the child to read it for the first time independently.

The Doctor With An Eye for Eyes should be read by every child because it will help them understand the importance of perseverance and education. The story shows how Patricia used her knowledge to teach others and make a positive impact on the world. Because of Patricia, “those without sight for years (like fifteen or twenty or THIRTY more years), they could finally SEE!”

The Doctor With An Eye for Eyes shows how Patricia overcame many obstacles before she reached her goal. However, one of Patricia’s greatest accomplishments was to open the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness. “She CREATED a place. . . A place to bring HOPE to the whole human race. Its motto is this: Rich or poor, black or white, healthy vision’s important. It’s everyone’s right.”

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Absolute Hero

A crowded new school and a crazy class schedule are enough to make Izzy dizzy.  It may be the first day of sixth grade, but as long as best friends Allie Einstein and Charlie Darwin are by her side, Izzy knows it’ll all be okay. But first–day jitters take an icy turn when Izzy’s old pal Marie Curie comes back to town and gives her former friends the cold shoulder. The problems pile up when the school’s air conditioning goes on the fritz. The temperature suddenly drops to what feels like the coldest possible, and the adults don’t seem to have a clue how to thaw out the school.

Cold temperatures and a frigid friendship? Izzy has had enough of feeling like an absolute zero. She rallies the girls to use their brainpower and science smarts to tackle the school’s chilly mystery—and hopefully fix a certain frozen friendship along the way. Will the girls succeed and become the absolute heroes of Atom Middle School?

As the girls try to discover why the air conditioner is malfunctioning, they use the scientific method, which appears as illustrations that look like binder paper. When the girls are checking out the air condition unit on the roof, the door closes and Izzy uses a hose to repel from the two-story building. When the girls tell Allie’s grandmother about their adventure, she says, “Well behaved women rarely make history. You girls go ahead and be subversive. Just be careful, too.”

The characters are a racially diverse group, who have different family dynamics. Charlie has two veterinarian moms, and she loves to eat healthy, homegrown food. Allie lives with her grandmother because her archaeologist mother works a lot. Izzy seeks out her grandfather who helps her solve problems. The S.M.A.R.T Squad is made of confident girls, who love science and are not afraid of being smart. The girls are likable because they are quirky and imperfect.

Another positive aspect of the story is that the girls are able to solve the mystery of the too-cool school, yet they keep their success a secret. Instead of being braggarts, the girls are confident enough that they don’t need to tell the whole world of their good deeds.

Valarie Tripp, the author of several American Girl stories, writes a fun story with science-loving characters. Even though the story shows smart girls using science, the science facts never feel like a lecture. Instead, the science seamlessly blends into the story’s events. The end of the book includes short biographies of the scientist that the characters are named after as well as two pages that explain some great women scientists.

With themes of friendship, science, and solving problems, Izzy Newton and the S.M.A.R.T. Squad: Absolute Hero will appeal to a wide variety of readers. Black and white illustrations, which appear every 4 to 6 pages, show the girls’ unique personalities. Girls who want to read other stories with smart girls should check out the Girls Who Code Series by  Stacia Deutsch and Ellie, Engineer by Jackson Pearce.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • Charlie tells Izzy, “Your brothers are total eye candy.”

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Cece Loves Science and Adventure

Cece and her Adventure Girl group are going on a camping trip. Cece has packed everything including the marshmallows. Her friends, Caroline and Daisy, help set up a tent. Once that is complete, Cece’s mom and the three friends go on a nature hike. They see all sorts of interesting things like a twisty oak tree and a fork in the path. Cece uses her camera to take lots of pictures.

A sudden rainstorm surprises the girls, but they’re prepared. They make a shelter out of their rain ponchos. When Cece’s mom loses her cellphone signal, the girls use the pictures that Cece took to make a map. Soon they are back at camp! The Adventure Girls are excited that they earned their camping pin.

Cece wants to make sure she is extra prepared for the camping trip, so she uses two lists—Adventure Girls Camping Checklist and Cece’s Camping Checklist. As the girls go on their adventure, they also use a list to make sure they are able to earn their camping pin. While on the camping trip, the girls have fun and have to use math to build a tent, figure out how far away a storm is, and find out how far they are from their camp.

Several times, Cece thinks about what her teacher, Ms. Curie, has taught her in class. While the story has some scientific facts, the lessons seem rushed and have little detail. For example, when a storm approaches, Cece thinks about the different types of clouds, which are identified in a thought bubble. The story quickly moves on, without teaching more about clouds. In addition, Cece and her friends are able to use pictures to create a map back to their campsite, which is unrealistic.

While the story’s plot is not as well developed as the first book in the series, younger readers will enjoy seeing Cece and her friends work together to solve problems. While the science is kid-friendly, younger readers will need help reading the text-heavy pages because of the complex sentence structure and difficult vocabulary such as Mississippi, cumulus, and gnome.

Cece Loves Science and Adventure uses an easy-to-understand format and brightly colored, full-page illustrations to engage students. Several of the illustrations show the math problems that the girls are trying to figure out. The illustrations highlight the characters’ facial expressions which helps readers understand their emotions. The story ends with a STEM Pin Worksheet that shows how the camping trip meet the requirements to earn a STEM Adventure Girl pin. A two-page glossary appears at the back of the book.

The Cece Loves Science Series introduces young readers to science in a fun and educational way. Each story makes science fun and shows the importance of working together. With supportive adults, a diverse group of characters, and an adorable dog, Cece Loves Science and Adventure will entertain and educate readers.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

Dragons vs. Unicorns

Kate the Chemist is a ten-year-old science problem solver. There’s no problem Kate can’t fix. When her best friend, Birdie, is cast as the lead unicorn in their school’s musical, Dragons vs. Unicorns, and Kate is chosen to be the assistant director, they agree this is going to be the best musical EVER! Kate is a natural assistant director; like all good scientists, she’s smart and organized, but she also comes up with great ideas. But when everything starts going wrong with the musical and Kate realizes someone is sabotaging the show, will her special science sleuthing skills help save the day—and the show?

Dragons vs. Unicorns blends chemistry with a drama production. The story is told from Kate’s point of view, which allows readers to understand Kate’s emotions as well as her love of chemistry. While Kate has interests besides chemistry, she compares everything to science, which may frustrate readers who don’t love science.

Readers who were expecting a book about dragons and unicorns will be disappointed because the mythological creatures never appear in the book. Instead, some of the characters will be dragons or unicorns in the school play. However, the play allows Kate to use science to make it appear as if the dragons are breathing fire. The story focuses on science and also incorporates life lessons about getting along with others and the importance of listening. At one point, Kate’s best friend is honest with her and tells her, “you do get stuck in your own head and don’t pay attention to what’s going on around you.”

The short chapters all begin with definitions of science words such as thermal shocks, vapor, and protocol. Simple black and white illustrations appear every 1 to 3 pages. While the illustrations help break up the text, they will not help readers understand the plot or visualize the characters. The book ends with instructions on how to make unicorn glue. Even though the book includes some other experiments, Biberdorf warns readers not to perform them without adult supervision.

Readers who love all things science will enjoy Dragons vs. Unicorns. However, readers who are not interested in science might find the focus on science a little overwhelming. Dragons vs. Unicorns highlights the importance of trying new things and listening to others. However, the only character that is developed is Kate. The story would have benefited from having Kate interact with her peers more.  Dragons vs. Unicorns is an entertaining book that will get readers thinking about how science is used in their daily lives. Readers who would like to mix a little fantasy and science will also enjoy the Zoey and Sassafras Series by Asia Citro.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • “Holy jeans” is used as an exclamation one time.

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

Newton’s Rainbow: The Revolutionary Discoveries of a Young Scientist

Famed for his supposed encounter with a falling apple that inspired his theory of gravity, Isaac Newton (1642–1727) grew from a quiet and curious boy into one of the most influential scientists of all time. Newton’s Rainbow tells the story of young Isaac—always reading, questioning, observing, and inventing—and how he eventually made his way to Cambridge University, where he studied the work of earlier scientists and began building on their accomplishments.

When a bubonic plague outbreak interrupted his formal schooling in 1665, he made discoveries that illuminated the mysteries of gravity, motion, and even rainbows—giving mankind a new understanding of the natural world that changed science forever.

While most people recognize Isaac Newton’s name, they do not know how extraordinary his discoveries were. Newton’s Rainbow details many of Newton’s experiments, including when he made a mouse-powered mill. “Isaac attached a string to a mouse’s tail and put the mouse on a treadmill. When he tugged on the string, the mouse ran.” Readers who love science will be intrigued by Newton’s experiments.

Newton studied many great men who came before him including Aristotle, Plato, Johannes Kepler, and Galileo Galilei. The book includes a one-paragraph biography of both Galileo and Kepler. As Newton studied these great men, he also conducted experiments to prove or disprove a hypothesis. While the story of an apple falling on Newton’s head was not true, Newton was able to develop the theory of gravitation. He also developed calculus and his theories became the basics for modern physics.

Newton’s Rainbow is a picture book that has large full-colored illustrations that show Newton’s activities and experiments. However, the book will need to be read by an adult because of the text-heavy pages and the difficult vocabulary. Some difficult words, such as philosophy and chamber pot, are defined in the text. While the book does an excellent job of explaining Newton’s impact on today’s world, Newton’s Rainbow may not appeal to young readers. However, the book would be an excellent resource for a research paper.

Newton’s Rainbow will help readers understand Newton’s contributions to math and science. Readers who love science should add Newton’s Rainbow to their must-read list. However, highly active children may find it difficult to sit through a reading of the book. To introduce young readers to science, parents should read these books to their children: Questioneers Collection by Andrea Beaty and the Zoey and Sassafras series by Asia Citro.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • At school, Newton was often bullied. But then, “he beat up the school bully in a fight—even though the bully was much bigger.”

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • Newton lived with an apothecary, who made medicines. “One required the patient to drink a mixture of mint, the bitter herb wormwood, and three hundred headless millipedes ‘well beaten with ale.’”
  • While at Cambridge, Isaac’s first roommate “liked to go to pubs and parties throughout the night.”

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Cece Loves Science

Cece loves to ask questions which is one reason she is so excited when her teacher, Ms. Curie, assigns a science project. Cece and her best friend Isaac both love zoology, so they decide to find out if dogs eat vegetables, and Cece’s dog Einstein will be the perfect test subject.

Cece and Isaac give Einstein different vegetables, but he refuses to eat them, even when they are covered with ketchup and bacon. Then Cece gets a great idea! Einstein loves bananas. Would Einstein eat vegetables if she made a vegetable and banana smoothie?

Both Cece’s parents and teacher encourage Cece to ask questions and then investigate to discover the answer. While in school, Ms. Curie introduces four famous scientists as well as different types of science. When Ms. Curie assigns the science project, Cece and Isaac use the scientific method which includes brainstorming, observing, and experimenting with different variables. The two friends use Ms. Curie’s Science Project Worksheet to document their experiment. The project worksheet appears throughout the story, which helps readers understand Cece and Isaac’s process.

Cece Loves Science introduces young readers to the scientific method in an easy-to-understand format. The brightly colored, full-page illustrations show Cece and Isaac in action. The illustrations highlight the characters’ facial expressions which helps readers understand their emotions. Readers will laugh at Einstein’s antics as he tries to avoid eating vegetables. The story’s text and illustrations expertly combine into an engaging format that will capture readers’ attention.

Even though Cece Loves Science is educational, the information is integrated into the story’s plot and never feels like a school lesson. While the science is kid-friendly, younger readers will need help reading the text-heavy pages because of the complex sentence structure and difficult vocabulary such as interpret, investigate and guarantee. Even though Cece Loves Science has more text than the average picture book, the fun science project will keep readers interested until the very end.

The supportive adults, diverse characters, and fun experiments make Cece Loves Science a must-read book. A two-page glossary appears at the back of the book. The glossary explains the scientists introduced in the story as well as defines science words. Cece’s curiosity is contagious, and her story will spark reader’s interest in science. After reading Cece Loves Science readers will be eager to try an experiment of their own. For more science fun, readers should check out the Ada Twist Series by Andrea Beaty, which includes both picture books and chapter books.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

A is for Astronaut: Blasting Through the Alphabet

Retired astronaut Clayton Anderson takes readers on an A to Z flight through the alphabet from astronaut and blastoff to spacewalk and Zulu Time. Topics cover science, the history of NASA, and practical aspects of being an astronaut. In addition, A is for Astronaut has other astronaut facts that books usually overlook—such as how astronauts take out the trash while in space!

Even though younger readers may not understand all of the scientific information in A is for Astronaut, this picture book will captivate readers of all ages. Each letter has a fun poem paired with longer expository text. The main text appears in the form of a rhyming poem. Most pages have a sidebar that explains more about each topic. These sidebars have 2-3 paragraphs that use some difficult vocabulary. For younger readers, the poem will give enough information without reading the sidebars, while older readers will enjoy the additional tidbits in the sidebars.

The illustrations in A is for Astronaut are so beautiful that they would make gorgeous pictures to hang on the wall! The full-page illustrations use a kaleidoscope of color to show the beauty of space and the wonder of space travel. For example, one picture shows a child’s face, clearly captivated by a space shuttle launch which is reflected in the child’s sunglasses. Each illustration has beautiful details that show different aspects of space flight such as the planets, the astronauts, and the people on earth. While most illustrations focus on planets and astronauts in space suits, the pictures include a diverse group of men and women which will allow all readers to picture themselves in a space-related career.

Every child should read A is for Astronaut because the text and illustrations combine to show the wonder of space flight. For those who do not already love science or space, A is for Astronaut will provide a basic understanding of space flight. But more importantly, the book might just spark readers’ interest in space flight, the planets, or a career in science.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

 

Spiritual Content

  • None

Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier

The United States may have put the first man on the moon, but it was the Soviet space program that made Valentina Tereshkova the first woman in space. It took years for the U.S. to catch up, but soon NASA’s first female astronauts were racing past milestones of their own. The trailblazing women of Group 9, NASA’s first mixed-gender class, had the challenging task of convincing people that a woman’s place is in space. But the women soon discovered that even NASA had a lot to learn about making space travel possible for everyone.

Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier follows Mary Cleave and Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, among others. Many people, including Valentina’s own mother, didn’t think women were capable of becoming astronauts. Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier takes a humorous look at the gender stereotypes that women astronauts had to overcome. For example, as the first American woman in space, Sally Ride faced great pressure from the media.

Once NASA allowed women to train as astronauts, men realized women were capable of completing difficult tasks. Despite their differences, every astronaut works as a team to complete essential tasks. When Mary finally went into space, she talks about the beauty of space as well as some of the difficult aspects of space flight, such as how difficult it is to use the bathroom with no gravity. While the book has some lighter moments, it also reminds readers, “when you made a serious mistake in this job, it cost lives. We’ve lost three crews: Apollo 1 in 1967, Challenger in 1986, and Columbia in 2003.”

Even though Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier is a graphic novel, it packs a lot of history into a short amount of text. Since the text rarely uses people’s names, keeping track of the huge cast of characters is difficult. The back of the book has several pages with pictures of different astronauts, but these pages do not include names. Younger readers may become frustrated by the difficult space language as well as the unique font that is used when the Russians speak. One example of a complicated sentence is when Mary said, “That’s because of the 1X resolver’s IMU BITE, we needed a GNC spec 1on CRT 2.”

Strong readers who have a love of history and space will enjoy being introduced to space history, astronaut training, and life in space. The often humorous artwork excellently shows the characters’ feelings through facial expressions. Most pages contain two types of text. The characters’ words are shown in white quote bubbles, while the narrator’s thoughts and basic information appear in the square, blue boxes. Each page contains 2-13 complex sentences.

Even though Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier focuses on women, the graphic novel will appeal to both girls and boys. In the end, the book shows that with hard work, dedication, and perseverance, anyone can become an astronaut. The last panel shows a diverse group of women who are the “future astronauts.” Everyone who dreams of going into space should read Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • When Mary interviewed for NASA, she was nervous so she tried to be funny. After she got the job, she says, “I didn’t have a beer just before going to John Young’s office for my first assignment.”
  • When they first get to space, some astronauts take ScopeDex which is an anti-nausea drug.

Language

  • During a test, one of the astronauts says, “good lord, doc.”
  • When Mary joined NASA, “I got one more welcome gift. Nicknames, thanks to my assignments and my degree. Sometimes my fellow astros called me ‘Sanitary Fairy,’ sometimes ‘Crap Com.’”
  • “Oh God” and “my God” are both used once. When Mary looked at the earth from space, she says, “My god.”

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • While the astronauts were getting ready to go into space, someone prays, “Dear Lord, don’t let these guys screw up.”

The Sky is Full of Stars

On a clear, dark night, go outside and look at the stars. They may all look alike to you at first. But soon you will notice differences. Some stars are brighter than others, some have colors and some stars even seem to form pictures. You can find these constellations whatever the season and wherever you live if you just know where to look for them.

Anyone who wants to learn more about stars should read The Sky is Full of Stars. The illustrated book shows a diverse group of kids and a cat, who all decide to go stargazing. Not all of the pages have illustrations. However, many pages have an illustration and include 2-5 sentences. The book explains not only what the constellations are, but also the history behind them. The book has many illustrations of the night sky that show constellations. The Sky is Full of Stars’ illustrations also include some fun elements such as a cat that appears in many of the illustrations.

The Sky is Full of Stars includes directions for an art project that will allow readers to create their own constellation. The book is packed full of interesting information that is presented in a kid-friendly manner. Through both text and illustrations, readers will learn how to find the constellations in the night sky and understand why stars move.

Readers will enjoy learning both the history and the science behind the stars. Readers may have difficulty pronouncing the stars’ names. The book explains that “some of the names of stars sound strange to us. That is because they are not English words. Hundreds of years ago the Arabs and Persians named many of the stars. Today we still use many of those names.” The Sky is Full of Stars is designed for primary-grade readers who are ready to explore more challenging concepts. The Sky is Full of Stars uses an entertaining format that helps readers understand more about science.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Spaceman (Adapted for Young Readers): The True Story of a Young Boy’s Journey to Becoming an Astronaut

From the time he was seven years old and saw Apollo 11 land on the moon, Mike Massiamo dreamed of becoming an astronaut. But Long Island is a long way from space. Kids like him, growing up in working-class families, seldom left the neighborhood. But with the encouragement of teachers and mentors, Mike ventured down a path that took him to Columbia University and MIT.

It wasn’t easy. There were academic setbacks and disappointments aplenty—and NASA turned him down three times. Still, Mike never gave up. He rose to each challenge and forged ahead, inching closer to realizing his boyhood dream. His love of science and space, along with his indomitable spirit and sense of teamwork eventually got him assigned to two missions to fix the Hubble Space Telescope as a spacewalker.

Growing up, Mike didn’t know anyone who could tell him how to become an astronaut. “There was no science club at school where we could build and launch rockets. None of my friends were into space; it was something I did on my own. I had my spaceman costume, my Astronaut Snoopy and my library books, and that was it.” However, Mike learned that “being the smartest isn’t always the most important trait in school or in life; working hard, having a positive attitude, and getting help when you need it can be more important.” Mike chronicles his life’s failures, his successes, and the people who help him along the way.

Mike tells his story as if he were sitting down to coffee with a friend. His conversational tone and plenty of life lessons make his story even more interesting. He doesn’t leave out the difficult decisions he had to make, or the mistakes he made along the way. Mike says, “I don’t know if there are any lessons to take from this except to realize that the things you think are mistakes may turn out not to be mistakes. . . if you make the most of what you’ve got, you can find a way to keep moving forward.” In the end, what makes Mike stand out is his determination to find a way to overcome life’s obstacles.

Throughout Mike’s journey, he shows how people at MIT and NASA work together as a team. People helped Mike not to get something out of it, but “because that’s what you’re supposed to do. That’s how a team works. You help the people around you, and everybody’s better off for it.” Despite receiving help from others, Mike didn’t always know what to do, and he wasn’t always confident in his abilities.

Many of the lessons in Spaceman are told in such a matter-of-fact way, that it sounds like advice from a big brother. Mike reminds readers that, “If you get caught up worrying about things you can’t control, you’ll drive yourself crazy and waste valuable time. It’s better to focus on the things right in front of you that you can control.” Throughout his time at NASA, Mike’s experiences changed his perspective. To Mike, one important aspect of space travel is that “every person who goes to space, every person who gets to peek around the next corner, is someone with the potential to help change our perspective, change our relationship with the planet, change our understanding of our place in the universe.”

While Spaceman is full of encouraging advice, life lessons, and interesting anecdotes, younger readers may have a difficult time understanding the significance of Mike’s experiences. The ending’s pace is slow and uneventful because it explains how the termination of the space program affected Mike. However, anyone who loves space should read Spaceman. In addition, high school readers would greatly benefit from reading Spaceman because Mike shows how hard work and determination can help a person fulfill their dreams.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • When Mike went to work for NASA, he loaded up his car and “prayed I didn’t break down in the backwoods of Appalachia along the way.”
  • When Mike interviewed for a job as an astronaut, he worried that he couldn’t pass the eye exam. He “was praying for something so far out of my control that I could throw up my hands and say, ‘Well, that’s life. Nothing I can do.’”
  • When Mike reapplied to be an astronaut, he “prayed I’d be ready in time.”

Dragons and Marshmallows

Zoey discovers a glowing photo in her mother’s bedroom and her mother shares an amazing secret. Zoey’s mother has been helping injured animals who come to their backyard barn for help. Since her mom is going on a trip, it’s up to Zoey to keep watch on the magical photo for any animals that appear. But when a baby dragon appears, Zoey isn’t sure how to help. With the help of Sassafras, Zoey’s cat, Zoey must figure out what is wrong with the dragon. Will they be able to help the little dragon before it’s too late?

Dragons and Marshmallows will appeal to younger readers and parents. Zoey is an adventurous, bug-loving girl who uses science to solve problems. The curious cat Sassafras stays by Zoey’s side and adds some humor. Even though much of the conflict revolves around helping a baby dragon, Zoey also worries about her mom going on a trip. Zoey “felt a little nervous about not seeing her for a whole week.”

Little Marshmallow, an adorable magical dragon, is weak and must rely on Zoey for help. Zoey jumps right in and documents her experience in her science journal. In order to help Little Marshmallow, Zoey reads books that have fun reptile facts. After learning about reptiles, Zoey comes up with a hypothesis and makes a list of necessary materials. When Zoey writes in her science journal, the font changes to a large, kid-like font and occasionally uses illustrations. One of the best aspects of the story is that Zoey does not succeed the first time; instead, she makes mistakes and must use trial and error before she succeeds in helping the dragon.

Zoey’s adventure is shown through large black and white illustrations that appear on almost every page. Sassafras appears in many of the pictures, and clearly loves bugs just as much as Zoey. At one point, Zoey tells Sassafras, “I do not trust you out here with my bugs. My new little friends are not a snack!” Readers who are not fluent will need help with some of the vocabulary. However, with short paragraphs, plenty of dialogue, and a simple plot, Dragons and Marshmallows is accessible to most readers.

Dragons and Marshmallows combines magical animals, a relatable character, and the scientific method into an entertaining story that children will love. Zoey and Sassafras will not only entertain readers but also teach important lessons along the way. Readers will learn about reptiles, the importance of eating healthy foods, and perseverance. The end of the book has a glossary that explains unfamiliar terms. Even though Zoey and Sassafras is a series, the books do not need to be read in order. Readers who want more magical animal fun will also enjoy The Last Firehawk Series by Katrina Charman.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • A frog told Zoey’s mom that “he’d been out past dark looking for something he’d dropped during the day. An owl attacked him. He was terrified and hurt, but managed to escape.”

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • When Zoey’s mother was a child, she found an injured frog. When she helped it, “the frog looked me in the eye, smiled, and said, ‘Thank you!’” The frog told other magical animals that Zoey’s mom would help them if they were injured.
  • Not everyone can see the magical animals. Zoey’s mom explains that the picture of the magical frog glows “because of the magic. Any time you photograph a magical creature, some of the magic stays in the photo.”

Spiritual Content

  • None

Goldie Blox and the Best! Pet! Ever!

Bloxtown is hosting a pet pageant and the winner gets to name the new animal shelter. Goldie’s friend Li wants to name the animal shelter “Dr. Zhang Animal Shelter” after his grandmother. To help Li, Goldie, and her dog, Nacho, enter the contest. Even though Nacho spends his time napping and chasing his tail, Goldie is confident that she and her friends can teach Nacho everything he needs to know in order to win the contest.

When rich and snobby Zeek Zander enters the contest, Goldie is even more determined to win. Zeek doesn’t like pets and wants to call the shelter “Flea Bag Hotel for Ugly Dogs.” With the help of Zeek’s Butler Phone, Zeek sets out to get the best pet and win the race. Will Goldie and her friends be able to teach Nacho to follow commands? Will they be able to beat Zeek?

Goldie and her friends turn to engineering in order to get Nacho to run an obstacle course and follow commands. However, Nacho is more interested in sleeping and eating. In order to help Nacho get ready for the contest, Goldie and her friends make many gadgets, such as a tuxedo programmed to music. Younger readers will giggle at Nacho’s response to the gadgets and his crazy antics.

Goldie and her friends demonstrate positive friendship traits. One morning Goldie discovers Nacho missing. Her friends quickly jump in to help find Nacho. Ruby uses a drone to help find Nacho. However, Ruby used questionable methods to obtain the drone. Ruby says, “I may have borrowed one from HiBo Prep. And I may have hacked the system. And I may need you to keep it secret.” At another point in the story, Goldie enters a contest and she doesn’t win first place. But that doesn’t stop her from celebrating. The story emphasizes that winning a contest doesn’t make Goldie a winner. Instead, Goldie celebrates because “We built an awesome go-cart and had an amazing race. It was so much fun!”

Goldie Blox and the Best! Pet! Ever! will appeal to younger readers because of its humor. The story introduces readers to the idea of engineering; however, the story doesn’t explain the process that goes into making gadgets. The story is accessible to younger readers because it uses easy vocabulary, short paragraphs, and cartoonish black and white illustrations that appear every three to five pages. Goldie and her friends demonstrate positive traits such as perseverance and working together. Readers who want to delve into more books that mix science and humor should put The Data Set Series by Ada Hopper on their must-read list.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • Zeek calls Goldie and her friends losers.

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Project Middle School

Eleven-year-old Hope is excited to start JFK Middle School and be in advanced classes. However, Hope is nervous because for the first time, she won’t be in the same class as her best friend, Sam. When Hope heads to her first class, she discovers that middle school may be harder than she thought.

Hope makes her first embarrassing blunder in science. She makes her second embarrassing mistake in Spanish. When she goes to science club, Hope becomes frustrated because the boys don’t listen to any of the girls. That’s all just on the first day.

Hope may know a lot about science and her favorite superhero, Galaxy Girl, but that may not be enough to survive middle school. Can Hope navigate homework problems, changing friendships, and prove girls can do anything?

Hope has relatable problems that every middle school student can understand. She struggles to make friends, has embarrassing moments, and gets frustrated that others do not always listen to her and the other girls in the science club. In order to prove girls can do anything, Hope takes on more work than she can handle, which causes a colossal disaster. In the end, Hope and her peers are able to “acknowledge that failure is a key ingredient in success. Great scientists make mistakes all the time, and that’s how they learn and grow.”

Project Middle School is told from Hope’s point of view and focuses on both her home and school life. Even though the story has relatable conflicts, the story’s flow is choppy. Several of the events felt like they were incorporated to prove a point instead of being a natural extension of the story. For example, Hope asks a Latinx classmate if Spanish is her superpower. Hope then realizes that she shouldn’t make assumptions about other people.

Middle school readers will enjoy Project Middle School, which is told from Hope’s point of view. The story uses easy vocabulary and cartoon-like black and white illustrations. Large illustrations appear on almost every page. JFK Middle School’s students are diverse. The story teaches valuable lessons about not making assumptions and apologizing. The story illustrates that every voice counts. Despite this, Hope doesn’t have a clear voice and her story is bland. Even though Project Middle School isn’t a memorable story, middle school readers will understand Hope’s struggles as well as learn positive life lessons. Readers who enjoy Project Middle School should add You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly to their reading list.

Sexual Content

  • During class, Hope accidentally reads the wrong page from the science textbook. She reads to the class, “The mating habits of fruit flies will be the main subject of this selection.”

Violence

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • Darn is used once.
  • OMG is used as an exclamation four times. For example, when Hope’s friend sees her in the school hallway, the friend says, “OMG, Hope! I was just thinking about you.”
  • Hope calls her dogs “little fluff butts” twice.

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • When Hope goes up to the whiteboard, she was “praying no sweat marks are visible under my arms.”

In the Spotlight

Ellie’s best friend Kit loves to be in pageants. Kit wants to share the pageant experience with Ellie. Ellie is excited to spend time with Kit and meet new friends. Plus, Ellie has plenty of engineering ideas to help the other contestants with their acts, like building a light-up skateboard ramp for Kit.

One contestant, Kit’s not-so-nice pageant rival Melody, makes fun of Ellie’s tool belt and thinks engineering isn’t “ladylike.” Then Melody’s rabbit—part of her talent act—goes missing. Ellie knows she can build a contraption to catch him, but will Melody’s attitude make Ellie doubt that engineering has a place in the pageant?

In the Spotlight begins with several of Ellie’s engineering plans and sketches. Each sketch explains engineering ideas in a kid-friendly manner. The beginning of the story is slow, but once Ellie and Kit begin their pageant activity the pace picks up and has several positive life lessons. At first, Ellie is fearful that others will not appreciate her engineering talents, but her love of engineering and her knowledge of electricity and circuits refuses to be quelled. Through Ellie’s experiences, readers will learn to appreciate people’s different skills.

At first, mean girl Melody comes across as stereotypically selfish. However, as the story progresses her character becomes more well-rounded. Even though Melody is mean to Ellie and Kit, instead of being mean in return, both girls show Melody kindness. Kit believes that “sometimes it’s more important to be nice than to be right.” Because of the girls’ kindness, Melody realizes that her cruel behavior was wrong. Kit and Ellie also learn how forgiveness can be a path to friendship.

The story contains some fun illustrations of Ellie’s sketches; however, the story is text-heavy, which might make the story daunting for some readers. The story’s plot is easy to understand and vocabulary isn’t difficult, but the sentence structure is complex. Strong female characters, important life lessons, and positive adult interactions make the Ellie, Engineer a series worth reading. Ellie, Engineer would be an excellent choice for more advanced readers or to read aloud with a parent. Even though In the Spotlight is the third book in the series, the books do not need to be read in order.

Instead of being a stereotypical beauty pageant story, In the Spotlight is a cute story of friendship and accepting yourself. With realistic conflicts, engaging characters, In the Spotlight teaches life lessons along with electricity. Readers who enjoyed In the Spotlight should also try the Girls Who Code Series and Rosie Revere and The Raucous Riveters by Andrea Beaty.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • Melody calls someone a weirdo.
  • One of the characters repeats their tee-ball coach who says, “Don’t get distracted! Stop scratching your butt!”

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Jada Jones Sleepover Scientist

Jada is hosting her first sleepover and she has lots of cool scientific activities planned: kitchen chemistry, creating invisible ink, and even making slime! But when her friends get tired of the lessons and just want to hang out, can Jada figure out the formula for fun and save the sleepover?

Jada wants to combine her favorite things: science and her friends. She’s even more excited when her best friend who moved away shows up for the sleepover. But in her excitement to plan her perfect party, Jada forgets that not everyone loves the same thing. Soon all of the girls want to go home and Jada, with the help of her mother, learns to listen to other’s opinions.

Anyone who loves science will love Jada Jones Sleepover Scientist, which has kid-friendly science experiments as part of the story. Throughout the story, Jada’s family plays a positive role and Jada includes her brother, even when she doesn’t want to. When Jada’s brother accidently makes a mess, Jada’s friends don’t throw a fit—instead, they pitch in and help clean up the mess. Like the previous books in the series, Jada Jones Sleepover Scientist has relatable characters, realistic conflicts, and reinforces real-life lessons.

Jada’s struggle comes to life with black and white pictures that have a pop of purple. Jada Jones Sleepover Scientist is intended for readers who are transitioning to chapter books. The story has seven short chapters, easy vocabulary, and illustrations on almost every page. The story does have several pages with only text and some complicated sentence structure. Overall, Jada Jones Sleepover Scientist is an entertaining story that has positive life lessons. Readers who enjoyed Katie Woo by Fran Manushkin or Sofia Martinez by Jacqueline Jules will also enjoy Jada Jones.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

 

Ada Twist and the Perilous Pants

Ada Twist loves questions. One morning, she learns that hot coffee smells stronger than cold coffee. In a quest to find out why, she heads to the backyard to experiment with smells. Ada takes her brother’s shoes to use in her experiment. She doesn’t understand why her brother Arthur gest so cranky when he discovers his shoes are part of her experiment. As Ada is working on her theories, Uncle Ned flies by.

Uncle Ned got carried away in his helium pants. In order to help Uncle Ned, Ada must first answer a lot of questions. With help from fellow Questioneers Iggy Peck and Rosie Revere, her brother Arthur, and some new friends, Ada Twist is ready to save the day!

Ada loves to discover the answer to the myriad of questions that she has. She collects data, keeps a notebook, and brainstorms solutions with her friends. Ada uses all five senses to “gather data.” Even though the story explains science in kid-friendly terms, the number of topics might overwhelm some readers. The story explores smells, air currents, how weather vanes work, buoyance forces, and types of birds. In addition, the story explains what air is, what gases are, and what smells are.

Ada’s scientific notebook contains purple and brown illustrations that help readers understand her science experiments. In addition to Ada’s notebook, the author also includes pictures of the characters. Readers will giggle as Uncle Ned’s helium pants take him on a crazy journey. The illustrations in The Questioneers series are similar to the author’s picture books.

The text contains short, simple sentences with plenty of dialogue and onomatopoeias. Although the majority of the text is easy to read, some of the vocabulary is difficult, such as perilous, hazardous, buoyancy, overwhelmed, and reeking. Unlike the first book in the series, Ada Twist and the Perilous Pants tries too hard to incorporate science lessons. The plot is at times confusing because it jumps from topic to topic while including many of the characters from the previous books.

Readers who are just transitioning to chapter books will have difficulty with the advanced vocabulary and the confusing plot. However, readers interested in science will be completely engaged in the story. Even though Ada’s excitement takes over, her family is patient and encouraging. The story often points out the importance of asking permission before using someone else’s belongings. The end of the book has information about becoming a citizen scientist, a list of information about birds, and a poem about gas. Readers who enjoy The Questioneers series will also want to read the Ellie, Engineer series. Science lovers who aren’t ready for The Questioneers series may want to try The Data Set.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Latest Reviews