CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 35. . . .May 13, 2011.
S is for Scientists: A Discovery Alphabet.
Larry Verstraete. Illustrated by David Geister.
Ann Arbor, MI: Sleeping Bear Press (Distributed in Canada by S&B Books Ltd.), 2010.
32 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
Grades 2 and up / Ages 7 and up.
Review by Katarin MacLeod.
V is for Visualize
Visions of snakes twisting,
Whirling, turning, giving chase,
Inspired the circles
That solved a troubling case.
For Friedrich Kekulé, a German chemist, the compound benzene was a problem. … The snakes of his dream, he realized, provided the solution to the benzene problem.
S is for Scientist is a nonfiction text that takes the reader on a science journey through the alphabet. With each letter, author Verstraete has found an interesting science story or fact (many different disciplines of science are covered within the text) and explained it in a thought-provoking manner. As with other alphabet books from this publisher, the text is of two types – one being straight prose and the other being poetry. The range of different areas of science and scientists included in the text is impressive. For example, some of the scientists included are Patsy Sherman, a chemist who was working for 3M, and this entry discusses the ‘invention’ of Scotchgard®. A second is Clyde Tombaugh, an amateur astronomer who ‘found’ Pluto. Another is Hiram Bingham, an American history professor who helped identify one of the world’s greatest lost cities, Machu Picchu, a tribute to the Incan people. The list continues, each scientist with an interesting story, until readers reach the end of the alphabet.
S is for Scientist is a wonderfully descriptive alphabet story book for children. It gives the reader a taste of the variety of problems, discoveries, and wonders that scientists have been studying and continue to ponder. It is also a beautiful way to encourage children to begin to question the world – just as scientists do. As Verstraete states, “What scientists discover changes us all and brings more questions – some big, others small. So read their stories and wonder, too. What questions do you have? What discoveries await you?”
The illustrations on each page of the book accompany the text beautifully. The attention to detail gives the illustrations a life-like quality that could also inspire the reader.
S is for Scientist is suitable for young readers who have an interest in science and/or who are curious, wanting to better understand the world and connections to discoveries.
Katarin MacLeod is an Assistant Professor in Science Education at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, NS. Her areas of interest include physics educational research (PER), and the incorporation of science, technology, society and environment (STSE) outcomes into science courses at all levels to help students understand the relevancy of science, increase scientific literacy, and to promote citizenship.
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