NONFICTION

Chemical World: Science in Our Daily Lives

Orca. (Orca Footprints). May 2020. 48p. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781459821576.
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Gr 4-7–This next installment in the “Orca Footprints” series discusses environmental themes at a level appropriate for middle grade readers. The text examines chemicals, both natural and manufactured, and the greater impact they can have on the planet. The author also presents some history, mostly on chemicals that were declared harmful, like DDT (originally developed as an insecticide), radium paint on watches, and mercury in hats. At less than 50 pages, this easy text is accessible for young readers. Chapters are broken down into bite-sized tidbits, and small boxes on the edges of pages provide personal stories from the author and real-life applications of the abstract science. The entire book is in full color with beautiful illustrations. A glossary and a further resources section are included. Rae does a fair job of making children aware of problems and issues without coming off as too apocalyptic and depressing. The text mentions how young readers can make an impact and suggests changes students can implement in their own lives to make a difference. However, kids are unlikely to use this as pleasure reading without some prompting. It will be most helpful in a science class covering a unit on the environment, or a social studies class conducting a unit on contemporary issues.
VERDICT An easy and condensed scientific look at chemicals and their interactions with the natural world. While not something children are likely to read on their own, the book would do well in a middle school classroom.

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