A Question of Chemistry
Today’s book is reviewed by Debbie Glade who never tires of reading terrific science books for kids.
Why is Milk White? & 200 Other Curious Chemistry Questions ($14.95, Chicago Review Press, Ages 9 and up) is quite a sophisticated science book for kids, educating readers about the basic chemistry of products we use every day as well as the chemistry of people, animals and plants. The questions were written by 11-year-old Alexa Coelho, and the answers were written by her neighbor, a chemist and author, Simon Quellen Field.
The first question that caught my eye in Why is Milk White was “Why does Benedryl make you tired?” Being a major allergy-sufferer myself and frequently relying on Benedryl to get me through countless nights during hay fever season, I was fascinated to read about how this drug actually works and why it makes me so darn sleepy.
Ten chapters cover the topics of: 1)People and Animals; 2)Plants; 3)Household Chemistry; 4)Health and Safety; 5)Things That Catch Fire or Go Bang; 6)Things that Stink; 7) Color; 8) Chemistry in the World; 9) Chemists; and 10)Food. Under each topic is a list of fascinating questions. There is no index in the back of the book so readers must thumb through sections if they are searching for specific information.
Woven throughout the chapters are some really cool chemistry projects budding scientists can do at home, such as making oxygen and hollowing out pennies. Some of these experiments require adult supervision.
What I like about the book is that it was a collaboration between a curious child and a chemist, so it answers many questions that kids (and adults) all over the world ask. It is very well written meaning that children can understand the answers easily, without the author talking down to them. Also, as I’ve said many times before, there is a serious shortage of scientists in our country, so we cannot have too many great science books for young readers. I can seriously see how this book could inspire a young reader to get interested in a career as a chemist.
As far as the answer to the question, “Why is milk white?” check out page 131 of the book yourself. If you’re as curious as I was to find out the answer to this question, let me give you a hint; it has something to do with light.