cover image Spectacular Science: A Book of Poems

Spectacular Science: A Book of Poems

Lee Bennett Hopkins. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $17 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-81283-5

An intriguing picture book celebrates the sense of wonder that motivates scientists. The first poem, ""What Is Science?"" by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, catalogues the sheer range of phenomena that science covers: ""The study of soil, oil, and gas./ Of sea and sky,/ of seed and grass."" The subsequent 24 poems describe an encounter with a deer, a neglected magnet and the uniqueness of snowflakes as the poets pay close attention to nature. Whether the subjects all qualify as ""science"" may be in doubt, but the poems each evoke the mysteriousness of the physical world. Hopkins (Marvelous Math) includes an enigmatic poem by Carl Sandburg--""The stars tell nothing--and everything""--along with newer poets like Aileen Fisher, who asks in ""The Seed,"" ""How does it know,/ this little seed,/ if it is to grow/ to a flower or weed?"" The real star here is Halstead (Daughter, Have I Told You?), whose artwork possesses a surrealistic quality and who favors the playfulness behind imagination over scientific objectivity. In one spread, a scientist and a grinning reptile perched on a giant beaker lock eyes; in another, a child unzips an overcast sky to reveal the clear blue on the other side. Luminous colors, layers of texture and dreamlike images create a distinctive look. Though the collection's definition of science may be expansive to the point of being amorphous, it offers proof positive that poetry and science share a profound delight in observing the world around us. Ages 5-up. (Aug.)