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Science is Full of Characters

By Lorrie Hansen

The stereotype that scientists are all old dudes in lab coats sporting crazy hairdos couldn't be farther from the truth! Science is full of characters of all kinds. Library books help correct our misconceptions about who scientists are and what they look like. These kid- and family-friendly reads will introduce you to some of my favorites.

  • Ada Twist, Scientist

    2016 by Andrea Beaty

    Ada Marie Twist, named in honor of science pioneers Ada Lovelace and Marie Curie, is curious, observant, and shows remarkable perseverance—all traits that epitomize great scientific thinkers! Rhyming verse and whimsical illustrations will inspire even the youngest budding scientists. Parents and siblings of kids like Ada will appreciate the perspective her family offers (especially the part where Ada’s Thinking Chair develops into the Great Thinking Hall!)

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  • Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science : the first computer programmer

    2016 by Diane Stanley

    I am not usually intrigued by biographies but this one, cleverly disguised as a picture book, immediately captured my interest for several reasons. For one, after reading Ada Twist, I wanted to learn about Ada Lovelace. I had no idea that the first computer programmer was a woman! I also needed to find out what a “poet of science” is. Whether you like biographies or not, I encourage you to check this one out and learn how the daughter of the famous poet Lord Byron and a mother keen on math and science became a trailblazer in science.

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  • Nick and Tesla's Solar-powered Showdown : a mystery with sun-powered gadgets you can make yourself

    2016 by Bob Pflugfelder

    The Holt twins are inventors and super sleuths and they aren’t even teenagers yet! The cast of this suspenseful solar energy mystery also includes the intelligent but peculiar Uncle Newt—who reminds me of Doc Brown from Back to the Future—and the sweet little old ladies/ ruthless ninjas Ethel and Gladys, who are hilariously indistinguishable from one another. The author, an elementary school science teacher, is quite a character himself. You may have seen him on Jimmy Kimmel Live or The Dr. Oz Show.

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  • Stink and the Attack of the Slime Mold

    2016 by Megan McDonald

    The Moody siblings, Judy and Stink, will always hold a special place in my heart—and not just because my daughter Jessica and I read these books together or because Jessica got the chance to converse with author Megan McDonald, but because they are smart and amusing at the same time. Judy and Stink have some major competition for the most memorable character however, thanks to Stink’s new “pet” slime mold, Mr. McGoo. He’s an ooey-gooey, single-celled organism that will have you squirming to learn more about science!

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  • The Science Fair Is Freaky!

    2016 by Jack Chabert

    What could be creepier than a weird old book called Strange Science Experiments to Dazzle and Amaze? How about a school building that gets angry when students borrow this particular book from its library? The students and teachers in this story are easy to relate to, but the really interesting and unusual character is the school itself.

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  • Superstars of Science : the brave, the bold, and the brainy

    2015 by R. G. Grant

    Each of the forty brave, bold, and brainy superstars in this book are portrayed as colorful and friendly contemporary characters whether they were alive during ancient civilization, the modern area, or a time in between. The result is a fun yet factual portrait of the history of science superstars. My favorite part is the quote beneath each vibrant illustration. Be sure to look for the one that says “My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe.”

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  • Unmasking the Science of Superpowers!

    2016 by Jordan Brown

    What do a sea cucumber, a mimic octopus, and a peacock mantis shrimp have in common? They all have extraordinary talents thanks to their DNA, and scientists are studying them to learn more about how their superpowers can be used to help us humans. The eccentric characters in this level three Ready-to-Read book helped me gain a basic understanding of how today’s science fiction could some day become reality.

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