Great Illustrated Books

What's the Matter in Mr. Whiskers' Room?

By Michael Elsohn Ross, Illustrated by Pail Meisel

Candlewick, 2004
Pages : 48
Suggested Ages: 6-9
ISBN: 9780763613495

For kids who find the study of science intimidating, wait till they meet the male counterpart to Ms. Frizzle (who kids already know and love from Joanna Cole's "The Magic School Bus" books)—Mr. Whiskers, a teacher with a beard, a blond crew cut, and a passion for "the big idea." His mission is to make science scintillating. In his "Note to Big People," the fictional teacher explains: "Kids learn about science by exploring." In his classroom, he sets up seven science stations and encourages his eight curious young students to discover all they can about matter, using hands-on discovery methods: investigation, observation, exploration, experiments, and play. The gung-ho classmates work with water droppers and find the first of seven big ideas: "Everything around us is matter and all matter takes up space." They make gloop and oobleck, turn ice into water, weigh rocks, and make mud, before coming together to share everything they've learned. Which is a lot. Cheerful and detailed pen and ink and watercolor illustrations will make your kids eager to duplicate each experiment. You'll find easy-to-follow gloop and oobleck recipes at the back of the book, and other ideas for setting up each of the science stations. Mr. Whiskers' style and technique will be inspiring to grown-ups and youngsters alike. Author Michael Elsohn Ross, a naturalist at Yosemite National Park, has written many science books for children. We can only hope he's working on a new one about Mr. Whiskers.

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If you love this book, then try:

Cobb, Vicki. I Get Wet. HarperCollins, 2002.

Cole, Joanna. The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth. Scholastic, 1987. (And others in the Magic School Bus series.)

Cowan, Catherine. My Life with the Wave. Lothrop, 1997.

Dorros, Walter. Follow the Water from Brook to Ocean. HarperCollins, 1991.

Frasier, Debra. The Incredible Water Show. Harcourt, 2004.

Graham, Joan Bransfield. Splish Splash. Ticknor & Fields, 1994.

Kerley, Barbara. A Cool Drink of Water. National Geographic, 2002.

Lewis, J. Patrick. Earth Verses and Water Rhymes. Atheneum, 1991.

Lewis, J. Patrick. Scien-trickery: Riddles in Science. Harcourt, 2004.

Locker, Thomas. Water Dance. Harcourt, 1997.

Peters, Lisa Westberg. Water's Way. Little, Brown, 1991.

Wick, Walter. A Drop of Water. Scholastic, 1997.

Wiesner, David. Sector 7. Clarion, 1999.

Zoehfeld, Kathleen Weidner. What Is the World Made Of?: All about Solids, Liquids, and Gases. HarperCollins, 1998.

Critics have said

Mr. Whiskers provides a note to adults at the beginning about how students learn through exploration and again at the end by supplying information on how to create learning kits (including addresses for purchasing supplies). Although adults might be able to glean some ideas from this book, it's really more for entertainment.
School Library Journal