Customer Reviews: Science Verse (Golden Duck Awards. Picture Book (Awards))
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Elementary school teachers everywhere knew the wonders of the Scieszka/Lane picture book, "Math Curse" and its use in getting kids to get interested in basic mathematical concepts. Nearly a full ten years after the publication of that well-known title, the infamous writer/illustrator pair have returned with a sequel of sorts. Entitled, "Science Verse", the book is a quick look at a variety of chemical, biological, and physical sciences that introduce kids to common terms and (if they read it enough) may even accidentally teach them a fact or two. Parents be warned: If your five-year-old comes walking up to you with this book clasped in their clammy little hands, they may well ask you something along the lines of, "Mom, what's a carbohydrate?" or "Dad, what's a flavored quark?". Better do your research now before they do.

In this book our young balding child hero (seated in class next to the kid from "Math Curse", no less) listens to his teacher saying, "...if you listen closely enough, you can hear the poetry of science in everything". Without further ado, our narrator explains that, "Mr. Newton has zapped me with a curse of Science Verse". What follows is a series of different poems all discussing various scientific aspects of the kinds of things kids learn about in school. Some of these poems will be bigger hits than others. For kids, they're bound to enjoy the quick section neatly titled, "Why Scientists Don't Write Nursery Rhymes" as well as poems talking about the wonders of viruses, metal things touching electrical sockets, and some cute little four line poems that get the point across pronto. Adults will enjoy Scieszka's mighty original take on Lewis Carroll's, "Jabberwocky" or a play on Poe's, "The Raven" that substitutes the familiar "Nevermore" with "Dinosaur". The books ends, much as its predecessor did, with our hero waking up from his scientifically-inspired dream only to hear such dreaded words in his art class as, "Your art project must be your whole life".

Not everyone, as you can no doubt tell by reading other reviews of this book, is particularly pleased with Scieszka's latest creation. Some complain that the poems fail to scan correctly. This is certainly true from time to time. Once in a while this is intentional, but other times it's simply a matter of childlike laziness. Will your kid throw this book to the floor in a huff over a line reading, "A poem that could make you shiver / Like 3.5 pounds of liver"? Perhaps, but somehow I doubt it. If you don't care much for humor, innovative plays on classic poems, or outstanding original illustrations then I suppose the lack of scan would wreak havoc with your reading experience.

The book comes with a cd of Jon and Lane reading the book themselves. Those songs that absolutely must be sung are done so by 2 mysterious and uncredited children. To be frank, most of these poems should've been sung. It's almost painful to hear a poem made to sound like, "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", read and not warbled. The two guys seem to be having a high old time doing the cd though. They rope in their editor at one point (which, as another reviewer noted, really does make them sound a LOT like the guys on "Car Talk") and put the telephone call on the disk. They comment continually on how one poem resembles this famous one by Julie Ward Howe or that one to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Play your cards right and this could lead to your children reading the real poems willingly. Educational, to say the least. There's even a track on the cd where Scieszka talks about (and reads) poems that didn't make it into the book. The short four-liners about various scientists may have kids wondering who the heck Marie Curie or Niels Bohr could have been.

I won't tell you that every kid's gonna love this book because it's just not true. Some kids don't like poetry, no matter how well you spruce it up. Others won't touch anything science related with a ten-foot-pole. But for some kids, those who like the natural sciences and are not opposed to literature as well, this book is a bit of a boon. I would've made some changes to it, sure, but all in all it's a strong addition to any library collection (public or personal). Fine writing, fine illustrations, and a fine fun cd that comes with.
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on October 31, 2009
My review is mainly a response to the negative reviews on this page. First off, were you really expecting to teach accurate "science" from this book? I mean this book is authored by the same guy that writes about a stinky cheese man and the real stories of the three little pigs. Anyone expecting textbook grade science material is barking up the wrong tree.

Second, all the reviewers complaining about how it makes science seem boring are completely missing the point. Science isn't boring, but the way it is taught in schools is often boring. The book appeals to that sentiment, but it doesn't imply that science is boring. Rather, it makes science look fun; it just makes the science teachers look a little dull (After all, their boring ways killed the dinosaurs).

Third, does this look like the type of book where you are going to find perfectly structured poetry? Not all of the rhymes flow perfectly well, but sometimes that was the author's intention anyways. For the most part, the rhymes are great and they're entertaining.

Take the book for what it is: excellent illustration and fun rhymes. This book isn't necessarily going to make kids rush off to read a biochemistry text book, but I think it helps to make science a more approachable subject. After all, anything that takes itself so seriously that it doesn't allow in room for a little self-deprecation from time to time, isn't all that approachable.

And to the review that said poetry is unrelated to science: please take the time to see the art and poetry behind science. It sounds to me that you have unfortunately been taught science by the very same teachers this book takes a jab at, but you can definitely find art in the world of science.
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on March 5, 2007
I've used this book in my biology class for 9th graders. They love it when I read a passage from it to start a unit. For the ecology unit, I read/sang the poem on food chains and then asked the students to write their own poem to a song about a theme in ecology. The verse in this book is original and fun for all ages!
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on October 23, 2015
Really love this book, as do my husband and son. This was won of the first books the boys read together, and even though he was too young to understand much, my 3 month old loved the pictures and listening to Daddy sing. He actually sat still longer for this than he does for his board books! We're science nerds in our house and love this book.
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on October 2, 2007
Okay. First of all, ignore the other reviews that rant about the unevenness of the poetry in here. Whoever said that all poetry must be measured exactly, like a recipe for the perfect peach pie? Lighten up people! Last time I checked, this book was in the children's section. The idea here is to have FUN. You can read this to your little ones, and they may enjoy the crazy little illustrations and such, but I think the older crowd will appreciate it even more. (By older, I'm talking about middle schoolers and high schoolers, but adults will hopefully get the humor in it as well). The more you know your science terms and/or poetry, the more you will laugh! There are some great twists on classic poems like Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" and Thayer's "Casey at the Bat". My personal favorite was the section entitled, "Why Scientists Don't Write Nursery Rhymes", particularly the one based on Jack Be Nimble - made my test tubes shake with delight.
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on July 14, 2013
This is such a fun book. My daughter loves it, she is 2.5 and enjoys the pictures and the silly poems. She demands this book be read to her every night, yes I know this book is for older children, however my daughter loves it. I bought it for her when she got older because I had the Math version of this when I was in grade school and had a nostalgic moment. As soon as the book came she wanted to read it and has fallen in love, considering getting all of them for her! Can't start too early I guess! I bought this used and it was in great condition, couldn't beat the price either!
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on July 14, 2009
My son loves, loves this book. He makes me read it 2-3 times a day. He totally gets the humor. He knows that you are not suppose to stick metal into electrical things. The part about dinosaurs is funny, too. Every kid has to learn about the dinosaurs and I think the authors point is let's get a little bit more original. We've been filling their heads with every type of dinosaur. They know that stuff, so let's move on to things they don't know like the different states of matter, what makes up matter, all the bad ingredients in food, the human body, etc... We think it is a great book and really enjoy the poems. Obviously, it is not for everyone. You just have to know your child's maturity level and if he/she is ready for this type of book.
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on July 16, 2013
Jon Scieszka's humor and creativity are exceptional. However, our overall feeling after reading this book seemed to be, "Been there, done that, don't need to do it again." The story disappears between the first and last pages. The book is more of a poetry collection. It helps to have the original poetry that these poems are based on indicated at the end of the book. Some are more obvious than others. My grandchildren lost interest before the end of the book. My teenager got much more out of it. Experience with more of the original poems or the scientific concepts help. It was appreciated more by the adults. Definitely worth reading, but if I had to do it again, I'd check it out from the library rather than purchasing it. If a book is going to take up space on my shelf, it needs to be one that we are going to revisit.
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on September 30, 2005
This book is good for students. It helps them see things in a different format and learn in different ways. By following the guidelines of the written material, the students can come up with their own ideas and write them in a new way, although their verse may not be as clear as the book. It gets them thinking about the material presented in class in a new way and process it differently. It has been said that not all children process information in the same way. Some may learn by listening to poetry from the book or by what other students write.
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on June 17, 2015
This is a delightful book that teaches as well as entertains through its silly and imaginative verses. Some are parodies of famous poems. A nice book for the child who is interested in science, or even those who are not. Excellent artwork.
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