Ok, now that we've gotten that out of the way, it's also full of fascinating science! Newman explores sea otters, seagrass, and the scientific method through the research of marine biologist Brent Hughes. After introducing the basics of the scientific method, the extreme cuteness of sea otters, and the place where the research is centered, Newman follows Hughes' investigations step by step.
The main narrative is Hughes' investigation of the unusual healthiness of the seagrass in Elkhorn Slough. One by one, he tests out different theories until he discovers the secret - sea otters! There's more than just a simple retelling of a scientific experiment here though; the history of pollution and treatment of sea otters, information about the various creatures that live in the area, and pivotal questions about environmental concerns are all included in this fascinating science mystery.
Back matter includes activities like creating your own science experiments, discussion of ways to be involved in environmental cleanup and studying varying viewpoints on environmental issues, source notes, glossary, and bibliography.
I love the Scientists in the Field series, but they're often too difficult for my lower level readers who are interested in science. This book hits a great in-between point between beginning readers and those who are more fluent. It's accessible and challenging, an interesting topic, and also includes practical applications for kids to explore their own science.
Verdict: This is a great read on its own, but I can also see so many applications for it; it fits in well with our new curriculum requirements in the school district, would make a great book club choice, and also fit in with a science program or some of the garden programs we're planning for the future. Highly recommended.