Saturday, April 25, 2009

Science Verse Ages 7-12

What if a boring lesson about the food chain becomes a sing-aloud celebration about predators and prey? Only the amazing talents of John Scieszka and Lane Smith, the team who created "Math Curse," could make science so much fun. CD Recording Included
Science Verse
By Jon Scieszka, Lane Smith
Illustrated by Lane Smith
Edition: illustrated
Published by Viking, 2004
ISBN 0670910570, 9780670910571
40 pages
In 1995, Mrs. Fibonacci laid a Math ...... Curse; this year, it's Mr. Newton who says, " . . . if you listen closely enough, you can hear the poetry of science in everything." What follows is a madcap collection of science poetry that lampoons familiar songs ("Glory, glory, evolution") and poems ("Once in first grade I was napping"). The whole lacks the zany unity of its predecessor, opting for an impressionistic tour of scientific terms and principles; the illustrations are less integrated into the text as well, if individually often quite inspired (a set of antiqued nursery rhyme panels are just perfect). Some of the poems rise to the level of near genius (" 'Twas fructose, and the vitamins / Did zinc and dye [red #8]"), while others settle for the satisfyingly gross ("Mary had a little worm. / She thought it was a chigger"). If this offering falls short of the standard set by Math Curse, it will nevertheless find an eager audience, who will hope that the results of Mr. Picasso's curse will soon be forthcoming. (Poetry. 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)
Kirkus Reviews Copyright (c) VNU Business Media, Inc.
Gr 2-5- Ages 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 In Math Curse (Viking, 1995), a ...
... teacher's chance comment causes a girl to see every aspect of her life as a math problem. This time around, the fun starts when a boy hears this remark: "-if you listen closely enough, you can hear the poetry of science in everything." What follows is a series of poems that parody the styles of Joyce Kilmer, Edgar Allan Poe, Lewis Carroll, Robert Frost, and many others, as well as familiar songs and nursery rhymes. "Once in first grade I was napping/When I heard a scary yapping" begins a lament about studying dinosaurs year after year. In "Astronaut Stopping by a Planet on a Snowy Evening," the narrator bemoans the fact that he can't figure out what planet he's on because "In science class I was asleep-." Children need not be familiar with the works upon which the spoofs are based to enjoy the humor, but this is a perfect opportunity to introduce the originals and to discuss parody as a poetic form. The dynamic cartoons are an absolute delight. The expressions on the face of the beleaguered boy keep readers smiling and the pages are chock-full of funny details that are in perfect sync with the poems. Printed in a cream-colored, readable font and set against solid backgrounds, the text is never overwhelmed by the frenetic illustrations. Fans of Scieszka and Smith will be in heaven, but the book will appeal to one and all.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ

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