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August 2018


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Recommended by Melinda at West Kendall Regional

What is Science?
By Rebecca Kai Dotlich, illustrations by Sachiko Yoshikawa

Illustration of children around a magnifying glass

When a child asks, What is science?, how do you explain it? It is the stars, the rocks, the bones, the butterflies. It is volcanoes and hurricanes, and trains and planes. It is questioning, wondering and exploring.

Rebecca Kai Dotlich crafts a remarkably thorough yet easy‑to‑grasp answer to the titular question; Sachiko Yoshikawa provides colorful and active illustrations. Charming characters lead readers along on their explorations as they observe all the aspects of science mentioned. Their great joy and wonder at their discoveries is gloriously evident in their facial expressions; colors are bright and eye‑catching, keeping readers engaged and drawing them in to the many details in the illustrations.

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Iqbal and his Ingenious Idea: How a Science Project Helps One Family and the Planet
By Elizabeth Suneby, illustrations by Rebecca Green

Illustration of young boy with science themed object in the background

During monsoon season in Bangladesh, Iqbal’s mother has to move the cooking fire inside, which makes her and the new baby sick from all the smoke. They need a better solution. Iqbal is inspired by the upcoming science fair, where the winning sustainability invention will also get a cash prize. After enlisting his younger sister to help, Iqbal decides to build a solar stove. Not only will it help the environment by providing a smoke‑free cooking experience, but he might also even win the prize money, which would be enough to buy a propane stove to use on cloudy days. But will there be a sunny day in monsoon season for him to test his experiment before the science fair?

Rebecca Green’s pencil illustrations are distinct with detailed backgrounds. Her characters are lifelike and engaging, and the environments are realistic and appealing. The backdrops, actions and dream sequences tell a remarkable story. Do not skip over the information at the back about a solar stove and how to make it, and the glossary.

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Cece Loves Science
By Kimberly Derting and Shelli R. Johannes, illustrations by Vashti Harrison

Illustration of young girl visually proclaiming a love of science

Cece loves to ask questions, and her teacher says that will make her a great scientist. During class one day, Cece gets an assignment to pick her favorite science and carry out an experiment. Therefore, with her partner, Isaac, they set out to devise the perfect animal analysis. When Einstein, Cece’s dog, eats all of her dinner except the vegetables, Cece and Isaac come up with an ideal experiment: will dogs eat vegetables? During their investigation Cece and Isaac discover that science is all about observing, waiting and repeatedly trying even after you fail. How will Cece and Isaac get Einstein to eat his vegetables?

Vashti Harrison provides detailed illustrations that perfectly reflect Cece’s and Isaac’s inquisitive natures as they brainstorm ways to go about conducting their experiment. Einstein is also an expressive character; you can clearly glean his attitude toward their attempts to get him to eat vegetables. The Science Project Worksheet presented throughout shows readers how to conduct an experiment and collect information, and “Cece’s Science Facts,” a collection of interesting information and definitions at the back of the book, is not too be missed.

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The Secret Science Project that Almost Ate the School
By Judy Sierra, illustrations by Stephen Gammell

Illustration of girl writing the book title on a chalk board

Our unnamed heroine is having a hard time coming up with a science fair project. After doing research online, she orders Professor Swami’s Super Slime, which she thinks will win her the competition. But things start going wrong when the heroine does not pay close attention to the instructions, allowing the goo to escape its box before the fair. The single‑minded and determined pile of ick goes on a rampage, eating our protagonist’s cat, sister, dad, teacher and some of her friends, not stopping until our heroine finally remembers how to make it disappear.

Stephen Gammell illustrates this lively tale with distinct characters. Their shock and fear as the slime begins consuming those around them—and coming after them—is palpable. Their reactions slowly grow more pronounced, starting with the uninterested cat and ending with the horrified teacher. The slime itself lacks definition except for its expressive hands and mouth, which adds to its presence in the story. The psychedelic colors and dripping effect keep it the main attraction of each page.

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Pirate, Viking & Scientist
By Jared Chapman

Illustration of a young scientist separating an angry pirate and viking

Scientist is friends with Pirate and Viking, but Pirate and Viking cannot stand each other. When Pirate and Viking’s rivalry ruins Scientist's birthday party, he turns to scientific principles such as experimentation and observation to find a solution to this friendship dilemma. After much trial and error, he discovers the answer in Pirate and Viking’s shared interests in pillaging, plunder and sailing, proving the power of science and friendship.

The quirky and colorful illustrations are great fun, and the fights between Pirate and Viking roll across the page. To add a scientific touch, the background is graph paper, and Venn diagrams and whiteboards appear throughout. An excellent introduction to science and experimentation, along with a subtle lesson on the importance of friendship.

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