This book teaches science while at the same time is full of fun, providing lots of laughs. Many of the rhymes are take-offs of common songs and poems kids may recognize, such as “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost or “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll. Some are short but still so clever, as this one on the dual form of light:
“Hey diddle diddle, what kind of riddle
Is this nature of light?
Sometimes it’s a wave,
Other times particle . . .
But which answer will be marked right?”
Similarly, the complexity of natural phenomena is elucidated in “What’s the Matter?” in which the authors begin by explaining:
“Miss Lucy had some matter.
She didn’t know its state.
She only had three choices,
So tried to get it straight. . . .”
My favorite is this riff on “The Night Before Christmas”:
“‘Twas the night before Any Thing, and all through deep space,
Nothing existed — time, matter, or place.
No stockings, no chimneys. It was hotter than hot.
Everything was compressed in one very dense dot.
When out of the nothing there appeared with a clatter
A fat guy with reindeer and something the matter.
His nose was all runny. He gave a sick hack.
“Oh, Dasher! Oh, Dancer! I can’t hold it back!”
He huffled and snuffled and sneezed one AH-CHOO!
Then like ten jillion volcanoes, the universe blew.
That dense dot exploded, spewing out stars,
Earth, Venus, Jupiter, Uranus, and Mars,
Helium, hydrogen, the mountains and seas,
The chicken, the egg, the birds and the bees,
Yesterday’s newspaper, tomorrow’s burnt toast,
Protons and neutrons, your grandma’s pork roast.
The universe expanded. The guy said with a wheeze,
‘Who will ever believe the world started by sneeze?
So let’s call it something much grander, all right?
Merry BIG BANG to all! And to all — Gesundheit!’”
Whimsical illustrations by Lane Smith complement each poem, and a CD of Scieszka (“rhymes with Fresca”) reciting the poems is also included.
Evaluation: This utterly delightful book of science rhymes will delight readers of all ages.
Published by Viking, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2004