Reviewed by Steve Canipe
Director, Science, Mathematics & Instructional Design Technology
This is a short book that would be entertaining for the targeted audience of 3rd through 6th grades. It has lots of illustrations and funny captions, which do a good job of elaborating on the science information being presented and making it reader relevant. The short length of the book (32 pages including all the afterword materials like index, glossary, Internet sites, etc) makes it ideal for students who have short attention spans. The presentation does not talk down to students but uses language and humor to entice the reader to continue to read. Consequently they are being introduced to some useful scientific concepts which they will study in depth later in their school careers.
The ubiquitous nature of matter is described in the first pages, thereby drawing the reader in for more information. One of the examples used begins with a question about air, which cannot be seen. Does air have mass? The text suggests blowing up a balloon and checking the mass. A second example concerns a rock and its shadow helping the reader to think more deeply about what is matter. The rock obviously has mass but does its shadow? Shadows can be seen but cannot be weighed. The use of a rock/shadow and a balloon/ air are good examples of helping a reader better understand how matter is defined—taking up space and having mass. These examples would help the early science student better understand matter in a practical, not just a theoretical, way.
The science part of the book continues with a description of states of matter and the elementary composition of all matter. The concept of a periodic table is introduced but not dwelt upon, leaving the elaboration for later grades. The same procedure is used in presenting the idea of various types of bonds and also in looking at the various states of matter. Terms that will be relevant in later study are being introduced to the reader in a way to evoke a nodding acquaintance but not to really study them in depth. A kitchen example is used to give the reader a practical idea of mixtures and solutions.
The last sentence of the book is really descriptive of this book's classroom value, "There's nothing the matter with this matter!" This would be a good book for a classroom shelf or the science section in an elementary school media center. The Solid Truth about Matter will attract a potential reader's attention because of the illustrations and humorous captions but will, at the same time, be educating the reader about one of the fundamental concepts in science—matter.
Review posted on 10/26/2012