Reviewed by Steve Canipe
Director, Science, Mathematics & Instructional Design Technology
For a student of the right age, The Shocking Truth about Electricity is likely to be an enjoyable and educational read. The most likely target age for a reader is probably 10–12 years old. There is a good deal of very cheesy humor interspersed throughout the 32 pages of the book. There are cartoons pretending to talk to the reader and for readers who would find this treatment entertaining, it would be a good draw into the book. The use of odd looking fonts begins on the cover and is interspersed through the book, though mostly in captions and asides to points being made by the author.
The actual science of the book is relevant and presented in such a way that even students getting their first introduction to electricity would learn some pertinent facts. Information being presented ranges from the charges on electrons and protons to how a battery works and how circuits are made. The information is pretty generic and simple but for a student getting an introduction to electricity, it could be helpful. The book might be useful in either helping remember what was taught in the classroom or in preparing for what is going to be taught. Other topics in the book include conductors, insulators, resistance—all the basic terms are introduced to the reader. Using a television example, the basics of voltage are presented, making connections to a generation that has grown up perhaps with televisions in every room. The last page of the book, before the additional training material like the glossary, Internet sites, and index, might be considered bathroom humor. This type of humor might have high appeal to the target age group. Terms such as "fart power" and "poop power" are used. As long as the adult is aware of these terms and would not be turned off by them, the scientific information presented is valid as the gases produced through digestion by cattle and through treatment of human solid bodily wastes can indeed be used for producing heat and thus used in electric power generation. So the final statement "Maybe someday your diarrhea will make electricity" is technically correct although maybe a bit shocking to adults.
With the caveats mentioned on humor and presentation style, this is a relevant book which is written at a grade level to make it readable in the 4th through 6th grade levels. Teachers should consider local school policies before adding this to a reading list or to a classroom bookshelf. The science presented is accurate but some of the other aspects of the book might make it difficult to use, depending on local school policies.
Review posted on 10/11/2012