CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 16. . . . April 11, 2003
"I'm hot," whined Sophie, wiping the sweat off her forehead.
"I'm thirsty," said Fanny, reaching for a water bottle. Lu rolled her eyes. The pups were tired and complaining already!
Clancy finally caught up to them. Sweat was dripping off his nose. His tongue was hanging out. He was puffing so hard he could hardly speak.
"I'll check the map," he said weakly. He dived into his pack. The others relaxed in the shade of big tree.
Ten minutes later, Clancy was still searching. Sophie and Fanny were getting bored. To keep them busy, Lu grabbed some drinking straws and scissors. She snipped here and there. Sophie and Fanny peered over her shoulder.
"Ta da!" Lu handed Sophie and Fanny the flutes she had made.
Before long, Sophie, Fanny and Lu were playing their flutes as they marched up the trail.
Lu and Clancy, dog detectives, are back with their seventh beginning reader/science/ activity tale. The two have taken on the responsibility of babysitting Lu's little sister, Sophie, and her friend, Fanny. Sophie and Fanny have energy to burn, and so Clancy decides that a hike to Mystic Lake is in order. Sophie disappears during a storm, and it's up to the daring duo to rescue her. Along the way, they hear lots of mysterious and sometimes scary noises. But all ends well when they find Sophie, build junk band instruments, and make enough racket for rescuers to find them all! And that's the story part.
The science part involves the mechanics of sound which are amazingly well explained at a simple level. For example, the sounds of the drinking straw flute are explained thus: "Different lengths of straws make different sounds. Why? Because there are different amounts of air inside each straw. The more air there is, the slower it vibrates, and the deeper the sound." Each science concept has an accompanying activity. The activities are illustrated in colour with step by step instructions. The instructions are easy to follow, the objects can be built by a child, and they work.
Cupples' illustrations for the story are bright, whimsical, and fun. For the activities, steps are clear and easy to follow.
Mason and Cupples have a winning partnership. The stories have action and humor, the characters are appealing, and the illustrations complement and add to the text. The only drawback to this series for library use is where to classify them: As beginning readers? As activity books? As science books? And that's not a problem for the readers at all, of course! Just make sure you have all seven in the series, and that you know where to find them.
Janet Delgatty is Collections Manager - Programming and Youth Services - with Vancouver Island Regional Library, based in Nanaimo, BC.
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