- Craig Graziano
11 Experiments That Failed is as hilarious as it is messy. Author Jenny Offill and artist Nancy Carpenter combine their talents as one young scientist stretches the limits of curiousity—and her mother's patience!
Offill tells her story through questions, hypotheses, and results, allowing the reader to fill in the narrative blanks.
Question: Can a kid make it through the winter eating only snow and ketchup?
Hypothesis: Ketchup and snow are the only food groups a kid needs.
What Happened: Stomachache. Brain freeze. Love of ketchup wavering.
Carpenter mixes drawings with photographs of real objects to offer a collage of scientific theory gone unchecked. As the title points out, all of these experiments are indeed failures. Some are mere disappointments, such as when testing whether gerbils desire larger wheels. Our test subject is declared too short to ride a ferris wheel.
Other experiments are minor disasters, such as the decision to spray perfume on cheese or placing dirty dishes in the laundry machine!
Obviously this book is benefited by a "DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME" disclaimer, but such content also provides a wonderful opportunity. 11 Experiments That Failed would be a great book to use as a launching point for your own discussion with your child, allowing you to talk about why it might be good to ask an adult before trying anything resembling our heroine's experiments.
If you enjoy this clever book of the pros and cons of unleashed scientific exploration, I suggest Offill and Carpenter's other book, 17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore. Our young protagonist forgoes the science in that book yet still receives a deluge of punishment for her ill-conceived actions. The book operates as an older companion to the troublemaking classic No David! Fans of science and humor might enjoy any of our books or videos featuring Bill Nye the Science Guy.
What we get from Offill and Carpenter is a spunky, funny girl who has worthwhile ideas, but who maybe should ask first before bringing them to fruition. Enjoy your ketchup!