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“You cannot help someone get up a hill without getting closer to the top yourself.” More
Summary: Mosquitoes love Riley, but Riley doesn't love them. He is tired of being a mosquito magnet. Riley and his friends try lots of ways to stop the biting, but nothing seems to work. After several failed attempts, they visit Professor Hayes, a bug expert! He has a few ideas, but will they work? This is an easy reader with a science-themed story.
Type of Reading: family reading, anytime reading, playtime reading, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 5 to 8; read yourself: 7 to 9
Interest Level: 6 to 10
Reading Level: 2.3
Adult Reader Reaction: This is a well-presented story. The illustrations take up most of the page, limiting the text to a third (or less) of the space. This works well for the content. Through direct text (mostly conversation) and inset boxes, the author relays lots of information about mosquitoes and the scientific process. I like how the book engages the reader in thinking ab out science beyond just mosquitoes. There are two illustrations on the last page and readers are asked to determine what experiment the girls are conducting.
Pros: The practical basis of the story will resonate with kids, who may be inspired to conduct their own tests.
Cons: We were surprised that Professor Hayes didn't dispel the "bug v. insect" idea. There are a lot of terms relative to the scientific method described in the story that could be reinforced with a glossary.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is an excellent book for the school classroom or library. It is an engaging story that also helps introduce key elements for critical thinking.
Educational Themes: Riley's efforts demonstrate several elements of the scientific process: research, hypotheses, experiments and trial-and-error (retesting). You can also learn a lot about mosquitoes and their habits, too. The last page, Think Like a Scientist asks kids to go back and look at some of the events. This is a great way to measure comprehension or introduce another subject the kids can test.
Notes: Flesch Kincaid reading level 2.3
Literary Categories: Fiction - nature, animals
Date(s) Reviewed: December 2008
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