Reviews for Why Is Milk White? : And 200 Other Curious Chemistry Questions

Book News Reviews
Simon Quellen Field answers hundreds of questions posed to him by 11-year old Alexa Coelho about chemistry and biology. The questions come from a place of wondering how everyday things work or are the way they are, which Fields answers in a way she might appreciate while also introducing basic but nonetheless technical chemistry concepts and nomenclature, as well as scientific ways of thinking. To this end, Fields explains the utility of, and repeatedly returns to, structural chemical diagrams where relevant. Each question and answer takes up only a few pages or less. The questions and answers are organized into 10 chapters on people and animals, plants, household chemistry, health, explosive things, things with strong odors, colors, ordinary chemistry, questions about chemists, and food. Most of these chapters also include instructions for simple science experiments. A glossary, but no index, is offered at the end. Distributed by Independent Publishers Group. Annotation ©2013 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Booklist Reviews 2012 December #1
Partial authorship credit for this question-and-answer-based science book goes to teenager Coelho, the curious neighbor of chemist coauthor Field. The geneses of the book are the questions Coelho would often pose to him in passing, such as "How does superglue work?" or "Why do skunks smell bad?" Scores of Coelho's questions are organized into topical chapters concerning household chemicals, things that make noise, colors, and food, among many others. While illustrations of complex structural formulas are included in many explanations, the basics of reading structural formulas of chemicals are provided at the start of the book. Demonstrative experiments are included to clarify difficult concepts, and links to YouTube videos of others completing these experiments will appeal to digital natives. Many of Coelho's questions are things that other adolescents (and adults) may have wondered, and here they are answered by a knowledgeable scientist who gives readers all the tools they may need to understand the complex chemistry of the everyday world. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

School Library Journal Reviews 2013 March

Gr 5-8--This book was created by an adult science writer and an 11-year-old with an interest in science. Coelho compiled a list of questions and Field provided the answers. The questions are loosely grouped into subject headings: "People and Animals," "Plants," "Household Chemistry," "Health and Safety," "Things That Catch Fire or Go Bang," "Things That Stink," etc. The book begins with a short introduction on how to read structural formulas. The questions range from quite basic to complicated and cover a broad range of topics, from "How does a Van de Graaff generator work?" to "Why does snow melt?" The answers range in length from a paragraph to two pages, and the writing is dry and uneven. A few black-and-white photographs, simple illustrations of chemical structures, and 12 experiments are included. These activities range from making the familiar dancing raisins (making raisins "dance" in a carbonated beverage) to making a butane balloon that involves freezing butane and then filling a balloon with it and observing it change from a liquid to a gas. "Smoking Hands" involves mixing small amounts of household ammonia and muriatic acid. Many of the experiments require adult supervision. While this book includes a lot of interesting facts, it may be a challenge for students to access them due to its somewhat arbitrary arrangement.--Maren Ostergard, King County Library System, Issaquah, WA

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