TITLE: "Mason Jar Science"
BY: Jonathan Adolph (Storey Publishing, 2018) ages 8-12, 136 pages, $14.95 hardcover.
STORY: First, no, this book is not a brand new release. That is OK. We are allowed to read books that have been around for a while, and this one is timely today in a way it wasn't when it came out in 2018.
Since March, families have become keen for child-appropriate ideas for projects that might give housebound youngsters something to do besides opening the refrigerator door and whining about food.
"Mason Jar Science" has the added timeliness of making use of canning jars, which newly minted home gardeners have developed an interest in lately. When we run out of cucumbers and peaches to can — or patience for canning — the kids can have a field day.
These 40 projects use the jars as substitutes for beakers and cylinders, but also as planters, terrariums, prisms, composters, birdfeeders and vacuum chambers. Lids are put to work too, serving as lids, mostly, but also as bubble wands.
The requisite recipes for slime, cornstarch quicksand and play clay are included, ho-hum, but many of the projects are less familiar. Some repeat experiments Mr. Wizard wrote about 70 years ago (there is nothing wrong with following the lead of good old Mr. Wizard), and they benefit from modern glossy four-color printing. Where Don Herbert's books used drawings to illustrate kitchen science like using red cabbage as an acid-base indicator or growing sugar crystals from saturated solutions, Adolph offers vivid photographs.
These photos will make kids want to make a gravity water fountain or pickle an egg or blow up a balloon using yeast or grow green broccoli-looking sodium bicarbonate crystals on a 4-foot length of yarn. (I sure want to.)
Read to Me is a weekly review of short books.