Bennett Hopkins, prolific author (over 70 books to date) and spokesperson for Children’s Poetry has scored
another hit with Spectacular Science illustrated by Virginia Halstead. He is also
the donor of both the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, presented by Penn State University,
and the Lee Bennett Hopkins/International Reading Association Promising Poet Award.
This anthology of 15 science related poems
celebrates the wonder of exploring science. The poems are done in a variety of poetry styles to include free verse, rhyming,
question format and repetition in a refrain. Poets include Lee Bennett Hopkins Carl Sandburg, David McCord, Alice Shertle
first poem, “What is Science?” by Rebecca Kai Dotlich sets the tone
for the book by answering the question in its title. The poem is in question
format with the answer provided in simple rhyming verse at the end of the poem, “We
question the how, the where, and the why.”
use of line breaks is especially significant in the poem “How?” by
Lee Bennett Hopkins, each line is just one word.
The poems are featured one to a page; each
on a double page spreads with brilliant full bleed illustrations done in a combination of oil pastels, oil bars, wax, and
Prisma color pencils. The multi dimensional effect is accomplished by Halstead using a layering technique with the different
types of media.
The Hornbook review expresses satisfaction
with this process with the following, “the poems encourage both scientific curiosity
and literary creativity; the fanciful mixed-media illustrations extend the poetic narratives and invite interpretive scrutiny.”
My favorite is “Crystal Vision” by Lawrence Schimel done in simple rhyming verse.
The prism bends a beam of light
And pulls it into colored bands
My fingers tremble with delight:
I hold a rainbow in my hands.
This book is particularly well done as
it reads equally well aloud or to oneself. Spectacular Science creates a mood of
educational excitement for science. Children in the primary grades will enjoy hearing the poems and following up with classroom
scientific exploration of the poem’s particular subject.
The review for Publisher’s Weekly states, “ Though the collection’s definition of science may be expansive to the
point of being amorphous, it offers proof positive that poetry and science share a profound delight in observing the world