________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 3. . . .September 26, 2008

cover

Hear This! (Let's Start! Science).

Sally Hewitt.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2008.
24 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 978-0-7787-4058-2.

Subject Headings:
Hearing-Juvenile literature.
Sound-Juvenile literature.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Barbara McMillan.

** /4

   
cover

Look Here! (Let's Start! Science).

Sally Hewitt.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2008.
24 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 978-0-7787-4059-9.

Subject Heading:
Vision-Juvenile literature.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Barbara McMillan.

** /4

   
cover

Smell It! (Let's Start! Science).

Sally Hewitt.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2008.
24 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 978-0-7787-4060-5.

Subject Headings:
Smell-Juvenile literature.
Odors-Juvenile literature.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Barbara McMillan.

** /4

   
cover

Tastes Good! (Let's Start! Science).

Sally Hewitt.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2008.
24 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 978-0-7787-4061-2.

Subject Heading:
Taste-Juvenile literature

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Barbara McMillan.

** /4

   
cover

Touch That! (Let's Start! Science).

Sally Hewitt.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2008.
24 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 978-0-7787-4062-9.

Subject Heading:
Touch-Juvenile literature

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Barbara McMillan.

** /4

   

excerpt:

Sound waves

You can hear the sound of helicopter blades turning.

The blades move the air around them and make sound waves.

You can't see sound waves; but you can hear them.

A bird singing makes a different pattern of sound waves.

You hear when sound waves go into your ears. Your ears send a message to your brain. Your brain tells you what you are hearing. (From
Hear This!.)

 

Sally Hewitt's five books about the senses, Hear This!, Look Here!, Smell It!, Tastes Good!, and Touch That!, will likely be an addition to many classrooms, schools, and public libraries. While resources for teaching and learning about the senses are not as rare as materials for science topics like the wheel and axle system, soil, and gravity, too often the books that are appropriate for young learners simply tell about the senses and do not include activities that underpin and develop a richer understanding. Hewitt has made certain that her books include a minimum of five explorations and/or investigations. Although uneven in originality and the depth of thinking required, there are several activities that will appeal to children. These include a test to determine how sensitive bare feet are in helping to identify unseen objects, telling a story without saying a word, identifying the location of a smelly cheese by sniffing it out, and investigating to find out how important binocular vision is in determining how far away an object is by placing a cap on a pen held at arm's length with one eye shut.

     Each book in the "Let's Start! Science" series has been designed to attract the attention of children. Primary and secondary colours were chosen in unique combinations for the covers. Even if a child can't read the blue "Look here!" on the yellow/yellow-ochre background, the photographic illustration of a blue-eyed, blond girl looking through a magnifying lens will let the child know that the book is about the sense of sight, not the sense of taste (a boy biting into a sandwich), the sense of hearing (a girl holding a large conch shell to her ear), the sense of touch (a boy holding a hamster in the palm of his hand with the intention of petting it with his finger) or the sense of smell (a boy with a squinched up face holding what must be a smelly red fish in both hands). The interior of each book is as colourful as the cover. Most pages have a two-toned coloured border and one to three photographic images that represent the printed information provided by Hewitt. Pages with activities are distinguished by a 9-10 cm streak of blue, yellow or pink on which the word "Activity" is printed in a bold black font - a design feature that children, as well as their parents and teachers, will recognize without reading. Hewitt has also included a table of contents, a glossary of six to nine new terms introduced in the text (identifiable by the bold font), and an index,

      Hewitt ends each book with a page of notes for parents and teachers. These notes are interesting ideas for engaging children in studying and applying what they have learned about the senses. In Hear This!, for example, there are 11 suggestions. These include children making a cardboard cone (hearing aid) to magnify sounds in the environment, finding pictures of sources of sounds and arranging them from quietest to loudest, discussing the sounds that animals make, finding out how workers protect their ears from loud noises, and drawing smiling and frowning self-portraits encircled with pictures of favorite and annoying sounds, respectively.

      Unfortunately, as the excerpt above makes clear, the information Hewitt provides can be too advanced for the age of learner she hopes to inform. From my perspective as an early years teacher educator, it is better to err on the side of experiential learning that focuses on recognition and awareness (as the "Parents' and teachers' notes" section does well) than to use language to make claims about entities we cannot observe using any of the five senses and for which little or no scientific evidence is presented to substantiate. The problems with the description of sound waves are repeated in Hewitt's discussion of the eye ("How your eyes work"), the taste buds on the tongue ("Stick out your tongue"), tiny sensors in the skin ("That's cold"), and "dirt with a bad smell" ("Clean and dirty"). Like so many authors who write about the sense of taste, Hewitt also replicates the tongue map misconception which claims that salty, bitter, sweet, and sour tastes are associated with specific regions of the tongue. Scientific studies show that all tastes can be detected anywhere there are taste receptors on the tongue. For reasons such as these, Hewitt's contribution to the "Let's Start! Science" series should not be the only books on the five senses that children have available.

Recommended with reservations.

Barbara McMillan is a professor of early years science education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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