The Science of Defying Gravity

Keyes Canyon Pr. Sept. 2020. 218p. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9780985007447.
Gr 3-5–Eleven-year-old Cassie wants to be the first person to make a movie in space. Attending space camp that summer is step one towards achieving her dream—then her dad loses his job, and camp’s one of the first expenses that gets cut. When she’s informed of an academic scholarship opportunity, Cassie sets out to raise her grades and do a science fair project that will convince her fifth grade teacher to write her a letter of recommendation. The majority of the book’s action is Cassie working on her science project: doing research, performing the experiment, analyzing the data, writing her report, and presenting it to her class and then the science fair judges. The introduction of the plot’s set-up and conflict feels rushed in the early part of the story, but it does provide a realistic reason for Cassie to make her academic journey. There is a slight crush subplot that goes nowhere and the secondary characters are fairly underdeveloped, with only Cassie’s former best friend having any sort of backstory or motivation of her own. Once Cassie starts working on the project, the prose is much more engaging. Her work on paper airplanes and aerodynamics is interesting, and it is enjoyable to discover with Cassie that the concepts make more sense when she has practical experience with them.
VERDICT Despite some flaws, this is an option for narrative learners that may get kids excited for science fair season.

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