What Is Science?


A whirlwind tour through the intriguing world of science


What exactly is science? Stars and planets, rocks and soil, hurricanes and airplanes—science is all of these things and so much more. It’s also about curiosity: asking questions and exploring possible answers.

Through simple words and child-friendly illustrations, this poetic picture book introduces young ...

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A whirlwind tour through the intriguing world of science


What exactly is science? Stars and planets, rocks and soil, hurricanes and airplanes—science is all of these things and so much more. It’s also about curiosity: asking questions and exploring possible answers.

Through simple words and child-friendly illustrations, this poetic picture book introduces young children to the exciting and ever-changing world of science.


What Is Science? is a 2007 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-A different version of this poem initially appeared in Lee Bennett Hopkins's Spectacular Science (S & S, 1999). Dotlich begins and ends with the line, "What is science?/So many things." In between, she enumerates some of the areas of study-astronomy, geology, paleontology, oceanography, botany, meteorology, and zoology. Each page has just a few words, in large print, superimposed on a background of boldly colored acrylic, pastel, and collage art. The rhyming text flows nicely, but because some spreads contain only sentence fragments, a quick read-through is necessary to get the full effect of the rhyme and cadence. Pleasingly rounded shapes dominate the paintings, which feature stylized boys and girls of various ethnicities, surrounded by plants and animals, as they observe nature and use books in their research. Many children are attracted to "science," but few youngsters realize all that the word encompasses. Although this book leaves out important categories, such as chemistry and mathematics, it does introduce a wide range of subjects. With its large illustrations, simple text, and important concepts, this title will be enjoyed by newly independent readers, or will ignite excitement in a group. A unique look at the topic.-Lynda Ritterman, Atco Elementary School, Waterford, NJ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Short rhyming verses give young children an idea of the vast array of topics that scientists study. "What is science? / So many things. / The study of stars / and Saturn's rings. / The study of rocks, / geodes, and stones, / dinosaur fossils, / and old chipped bones." Dotlich's focus is on the natural sciences, with primary attention given to the earth sciences, and to the exclusion of chemistry. While this will no doubt generate enthusiasm for scientific study, an afterword listing the names of the actual disciplines would have been a helpful resource. Yoshikawa's artwork truly makes science come alive for young readers. Her cartoon characters, weighted in favor of girls, use books, tools, maps and notebooks to learn more about the world around them. Humorous elements and spare use of paper-collage details will keep youngsters engaged in searching the illustrations. A child-friendly introduction to the huge, and sometimes daunting, realm of science. Sure to find a place on many nursery and kindergarten bookshelves. (Picture book/nonfiction. 2-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805073942
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • Publication date: 8/8/2006
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 162,921
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.82 (w) x 9.39 (h) x 0.35 (d)

Meet the Author

Rebecca Kai Dotlich is the author of many picture books for young readers, such as In the Spin of Things: Poetry of Motion. She lives in Indiana with her husband.

Sachiko Yoshikawa has illustrated several books for young readers, including Beach Is to Fun: A Book of Relationships. She lives in Seattle, Washington.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2007

    Nonfiction Meets Poetry. . . Wow

    Poetry is a great way to make nonfiction more accessible and pleasurable, especially for the very young. Dotlich's WHAT IS SCIENCE? is a stellar example of nonfiction in rhyme. In a very brief text--some spreads contain as few as four words--Dotlich provides a lovely nutshell definition of science. Perfect for ~4-to-7-year-olds. For such a young audience, it would be easy for an author to simply trip through the 'ologies' to create a list of science topics--forces, animals, stars, volcanoes, plants, weather, etc. Sure, that's part of what science is about, and Dotlich has touched on a good cross-section, but she didn't stop there. She wove in the notion that science involves the study of things, and I was delighted to see that she also captured the very essence of science--the curiosity that drives it all: 'We question,/ we wonder,/ we hunt and explore/ the secrets of caves,/ the dark ocean floor.' Dotlich never talks down to her readers, which earns her big points with me. She writes in a comfortable, kid-friendly style, but doesn't shy away from including more complex words such as 'geysers' and 'glaciers'. And instead of choosing surefire, easily understood, simple generalities, she digs deeper and goes for specific details. For example, where another author may have opted to talk about the typical grouping of 'stars, planets and suns', Dotlich writes, 'The study of stars and Saturn's rings.' These kinds of choices enrich the text, adding layers and giving readers specific details about which to ask questions. WHAT IS SCIENCE? demonstrates the impeccable meter and true rhyme for which Dotlich is well-known in kids' poetry cricles. I couldn't resist reading this book out loud (and neither could my teenager(!), who spontaneously did so in the middle of the livingroom after picking it up from the coffee table). The stanzas flow effortlessly. Internal rhyme turns up as unexpected gems. A fun read. The illustrations are big and bold, in a friendly, cartoon style. As a rule, I'm not a big fan of acrylic 'I prefer more subtlety', but it works beautifully in this book. We often talk about science with young children, but it's rare that such conversations include an actual definition of 'science'. Great topic, well done. --Fiona Bayrock, science author

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