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 with 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 in fiction books, then maybe the industry will ask for 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.
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.
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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 about space for the National Space Society. Please send me announcements of new books to consider.
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 RatingALL BOOKS rated with a maximum of 6 points.
Rating DetailsScience 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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