Monday, December 2, 2013

Nonfiction Monday: Things that float and things that don't by David A. Adler, illustrated by Anna Raff

I almost didn't borrow this book to preview because I thought the illustrations looked blah and unattractive. Well, I still think they're not the strongest part of the book, but it's such a good explanation of science concepts for young kids that I purchased it for the library anyways.

The book starts with a sort of general introduction and question. There is a lot of water in the world and people have been using it to travel and move things for a long time. However, how do you know what floats and what sinks? Why does a boat full of people float, but a pebble sinks?

The rest of the book uses a combination of narrative and experiments to explain the concept of density; how and why things float. There isn't any back matter, but the various vocabulary words (density, dissolved, displacement) are explained in the text and I would say that this title doesn't need any, because of the young audience and the layout of the book, which incorporates experiments. If you are doing any programs with preschool science, this whole book is a program just waiting for you!

Now, I really didn't care for the illustrations. As Ms. Yingling has noted, covers (and sometimes illustrations) don't seem to be Holiday House's strong point. These illustrations are very bland and simplistic, with awkward perspectives especially in the hands. The drawings illustrating the scientific principles are the best, but the cartoon illustrations for the rest of the book don't work well, in my opinion.

Verdict: Illustrations aside, this is a great explanation of density for young kids and I really liked the smooth way the author blended the scientific explanation and the experiments illustrating his explanations. I have three swimming pools that I mostly use for science programs, so having this book is kind of a must for me!

ISBN: 9780823428625; Published 2013 by Holiday House; Purchased for the library


Resh said...

This should be a fun read for the K and 1st grade classrooms. I have been looking for simple science books. From your review it seems like a great choice since the explanations seem to be done so well! Thanks for sharing Jean.
-Reshama @ Stackingbooks

Roberta said...


I just picked this one last week for STEM Friday. I think the illustrations add a bit of humor (did you see the trailer for this book?), but I understand what you are saying about how it detracts from the science.

If you do a lot of floating and sinking programs, you might also want to check out Captain Kidd’s Crew Experiments with Sinking and Floating by Mark Weakland and illustrated by Troy Cummings.

For both, I think the cartoons might draw in readers who prefer fiction?

Jennifer said...

Maybe - I'm not sure this age group needs to be drawn in to nonfiction though, they're usually pretty eager to pick things up on their own.

Thanks for the recommendation! We definitely like to see what floats!