Rules and Rebels
Charlotte the Scientist Is Squished
By Camille Andros
Illustrated by Brianne Farley
Best for: Ages 4-8
Disguised as a charming yarn about the scientific method, Charlotte the Scientist Is Squished cleverly tells the tale of a bunny that learns to be careful about what she wishes. Charlotte is a smart bunny scientist from a very large family. While working on her scientific experiments, she notices she has no room. No room for her beakers, her laboratory and her privacy. She’s squished! Charlotte relies on the five steps of the scientific method to solve her problem. She begins with a question: “How can I get some space around here?” Then she proceeds through the steps until she reaches a satisfactory conclusion. Farley’s pencil and ink illustrations help keep the tone light and humorous.
The final spread, “In the Lab with Charlotte,” defines and reinforces each step of the scientific method. All in all, Charlotte the Scientist Is Squished is an excellent choice for classrooms introducing the scientific method.
What’s good: Engaging illustrations and humorous storytelling with a strong lesson.
What’s bad: Not much is bad in this tale.
By Joan Holub
Illustrated by James Dean
Best for: Ages 3-5
What do you get when you combine tools with a tale about going to school? A lesson in teamwork wrapped in an introduction to basic household tools. Told in verse, this book for preschool children will excite them to pick up the next hammer they see, while also giving them a valuable lesson in working together. The cute illustrations will draw young readers in, and the rhyming, although a little forced, will make it easy for children to follow along. Although the last spread offers tips for tools and safety rules that specifically state children should always work with grown-ups, you may want to keep a close eye on your children after reading this fun little tale.
What’s good: Entertaining introduction to tools.
What’s bad: Not enough mention of tool safety throughout the story.
Seven Rules You Absolutely Must Not Break If You Want to Survive the Cafeteria
By John Grandits
Illustrated by Michael Allen Austin
Best for: Ages 6-10
New situations and unfamiliar tasks can seem daunting and scary to young children. Several years ago, Grandits and Austin teamed up for Ten Rules You Absolutely Must Not Break if You Want to Survive the School Bus to explore and add levity to one such situation. Now they are back and exploring the frightful setting of the school cafeteria. This irreverent take on scary school situations combines interesting bug facts with a worst-case scenario that gives this book the feeling of a quasi-creepy science fiction story. In the end, our main character breaks every rule and still manages to do more than survive as he eats his very tasty lunch. This is a smart choice for nervous students approaching new school adventures.
What’s good: Tongue-in-cheek humor delivers a smart message.
What’s bad: Could have used a spread to educate about the bugs mentioned within the story.