Marianne J. Dyson

Reviews of Kids' Fiction

I have been asked what I think I'm doing reviewing the science in children's fiction books. Don't I understand that this is FICTION, as in, make-believe?

Yes, I know the difference between fiction and nonfiction. However, children, especially young children, don't. Even if you tell them it is fiction, especially if it is realistic fiction, misconceptions get planted in their heads. As an example…

At a school visit, a second-grader came up to me. She said, "I really liked your talk about the Moon Mrs. Dyson, but you should know that there really isn't any gravity on the Moon." I asked her who told her that. She said, "I read it in a book!" The library was holding their Scholastic Book Fair, so I asked her to show me the book: it was Midnight on the Moon! (See review below.) This little girl knew the book was fiction. She (correctly) absorbed the fact that there is no air on the Moon—after all, the characters wear spacesuits! But, she also absorbed the misconception that where there is no air, there is no gravity, because the gravity changed when they went outside in their spacesuits!

Imagine having a child read a book that involved time travel to the Civil War. It is obviously fiction. But the expectation is that except for the travelers, the history will be correct. Then you hear your child saying that Civil War soldiers ate at McDonald’s for lunch. They know it’s true! They read it in a book! Wouldn't you want to correct that misconception?

If enough people complain about inaccuracies of all kinds in fiction books, then maybe the industry will decide to include technical reviews of ALL their books, not just nonfiction books. And because most editors have no science background, this area is probably the one with the most potential for improvement.

So yes, I know these books are FICTION. But I hope you’ll agree that even in fiction, it is important to get the facts right. The kids deserve our best effort.

Site discussed in interview in Chemical & Engineering magazine.

Books are listed in alphabetical order by TITLE.
See titles A-F | G-L | M-R | S-Z

A - F

Rating

Title (click to read review) by author/illustrator

5
Across the Universe by Beth Revis
5
Apollo's Outcasts by Allen Steele
5.0
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
4.5
The Cassini Code by Dom Testa.
5.0
The Comet's Curse by Dom Testa
5.0
Darok 9 by H.J. Ralles
4
The Divide by Elizabeth Kay
5.5
Earthseed by Pamela Sargent
5.5
Earth to Stella! by Simon Puttock/Philip Hopman
4
First Graders from Mars Episode 4 by Shana Corey/Mark Teague
 

G - L

Rating

Title (click to read review) by author/illustrator

6
Greetings From Planet Earth by Barbara Kerley
4.5
How the Moon Regained Her Shape by Janet Ruth Heller/Ben Hodson
5
Hubert Invents the Wheel by Claire & Monte Montgomery
5.5
Impact by Douglas Preston
4.5
In the Shadow of Ares by Thomas L. James & Carl C. Carlsson
3.5
I Spy A Rocket Ship by Dan Marzollo/Ward Yoshimoto & Michael Lokengaard
5.5
Journey Between Worlds by Sylvia Louise Engdahl
2
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
 

M - R

Rating

Title (click to read review) by author/illustrator

5 to 5.5
Max Goes to Mars by Jeffrey Bennett/Alan Okamoto
5
Max Goes to the Moon by Jeffrey Bennett/Alan Okamoto
0
Midnight on the Moon (Magic Tree House #8) by Mary Pope Osborne/Sal Murdocca
6
Meet the Planets by John McGranaghan/Laurie Allen Klein
4.5
A Million Suns by Beth Revis
4
The Parasite Pig by William Sleator
5
Pieces of Another World by Mara Rockliff/Salima Alikhan
4
The Planet Thieves by Dan Krokos
 

S - Z

Rating

Title (click to read review) by author/illustrator

5.5
Saturn for my Birthday by John McGranaghan/Wendy Edelson
5.0
The Seven Stars of Matariki by Toni Rollerston-Cummins/Nikki Slade-Robinson
4
Shades of Earth by Beth Revis
5.0
Shanghaied to the Moon by Michael J. Daley
4.5
Sky Horizon by David Brin
6.0
Spacer and Rat by Margaret Bechard
N/A
Star Wars: Pop-Up by Matthew Reinhart
5
Stella Brite and the Dark Matter Mystery by Sara Latta/Meredith Johnson
6
Taking Off by Jenny Moss
4.5
Three Little Aliens & the Big Bad Robot by Margaret McNamara & Mark Fearing
4
5
The Web of Titan by Dom Testa.
 

Authors or publishers who want books reviewed should send the title, author, and publisher information to me by e-mail. All books reviewed must be readily available for order through Amazon.com. I also review ADULT BOOKS for the National Space Society. Please send me announcements of new books to consider. NSS does not review self-published books.

Note: I charge $60/hour for manuscript consultation. I do not critique adult novels. Contact me for estimates.

All Dyson Books, Barnes and Noble Link

QUESTIONS? COMMENTS? Contact MARIANNE DYSON

Book Rating

ALL BOOKS rated with a maximum of 6 points.
6=Exceptional.
5=Recommended.
4=Okay-Good.
3=Maybe.
0-2=Not Recommended.

Rating Details

Science Fiction/Science-related Fiction Books are rated using the following scale:
  • 1 point for consistency and plausibility of fictional "facts" with real facts;
  • 1 point for clarity of descriptions, illustrations, terms;
  • 1 point for new concept or perspective on an old idea;
  • 1 point for readability/good grammar, point of view, dialog, reading level;
  • 1 point for science use in plot;
  • 1 point for interesting/inspirational character.

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A-F Fiction

G-L Fiction

M-R Fiction

S-Z Fiction

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