Feel the Force! A physics pop-up book by Tom Adams

Feel the Force! is a physics pop-up book by Tom Adams, illustrated by Thomas Flintham (Templar, Sept. 13, 2011, 20 pages), that explains the basic concepts of physics (friction, gravity, light, sound, magnetism, movement, and electricity) in clear language that a 6-9 year old can follow. It's brightly illustrated (with pop-up elements and pull tabs), it applies the principles discussed to everyday life (well, race cars aren't an every day occurrence in my life, but you know what I mean), and it includes experiments kids can try at home to drive home the information.

Here's an example of what I think is spot-on science writing for a young kid:

"A cube of gold weighs more than a cube of steel, even though they are the same size, so gold is denser. If something is more dense than water, it'll sink. If it's less dense, it'll float. Gold is more than twice as dense as steel and almost twenty times denser than water (which is why pirate treasure always sinks)."

Here's why I particularly like it-- the contractions. So friendly.

The information is presented in your basic little text and picture clusters, making this not a book to read cover to cover, but one where you stop at each two page spread, and read the bits, and pull the tabs (they seem to be tough tabs, which is good) and talk them over, and then if you wish you can do the experiment for that section. It's a book that would work very well paired with Magic School bus, reinforcing the science behind the fiction.

In short, a very fine introduction the principles of physics, and how these principles are at work in the world around us.

If I were homeschooling, I'd build on this foundation with Physics: Why Matter Matters, one of the lovely non-fiction books by Basher, which goes into more of the sub-atomic details in a very kid friendly way (my review).

I've said it before, but sheesh. The kids of today are so lucky! When I started high school physics I had little understanding of what "physics" actually was--except that it involved math and I would probably be bad at it (I was brainwashed into thinking I was bad at math. I blame my mother (who doesn't read my blog, so that's ok)).

On the other hand, my boys (now 8 and 11) have been known to have arguments about Newtonian motion and Einstein's troubled relationship with gravity. And this is not because they are little savants, which they aren't. Nope, they simply have had access to books and non-fiction dvds (The Elegant Universe is surprisingly accessibly to the young, probably because they can suspend their disbelief).

If your kids have already watched The Elegant Universe ten times, Feel the Force! will be much too basic for them. But if they haven't....it's an excellent place to begin the exciting journey into the wonder of the universe that physics can be (if your mother doesn't tell you it is mostly math and you will be bad at it).

Note on age: the publisher recommends this one to kids 7-11, Amazon has 4-8, I say 6-9. It all depends on the kid...

For more non-fiction for kids, visit the Non-Fiction Monday round-up, hosted today by Capstone Kids.

(disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher)

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