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Reviewed by:
  • 11 Experiments That Failed
  • Deborah Stevenson
Offill, Jenny. 11 Experiments That Failed; illus. by Nancy Carpenter. Schwartz & Wade, 2011. 36p. Library ed. ISBN 978-0-375-95762-8 $19.99 Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-375-84762-2 $16.99 E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-375-98384-9 $16.99 R 5–8 yrs.

In a similar vein to their 17 Things I’m Not Allowed to Do Anymore (BCCB 12/06), Offill and Carpenter document the adventures of a young scientist who’s more notable for her zeal than her rigorous approach. Each “experiment” begins with a question (“Can a kid make it through the winter eating only snow and ketchup?”), a hypothesis (“Ketchup and snow are the only food groups a kid needs”), and list of what you need; it then goes on to outline the steps and the results (“What Happened: Stomachache. Brain freeze. Love of ketchup wavering”). The book derives maximum humor from the contrast between the dryly technical format and the high-level mischief of “experiments” such as glittering up the dog and flinging bologna at a classmate. The subjects of the experiments are pleasingly broad (they’re neatly categorized, of course) but they’re mostly plausible domestic home-and-school [End Page 99] malfeasances—er, research. Carpenter’s art is again a delicious hybrid of photography and digitally colored ink linework. The sparely realistic drawing style, which includes helpful step-by-step diagrams, enhances the comedically serious approach, and it’s filled with telling detail such as the protagonist’s ubiquitous white lab coat. Photographic elements densely populate the spreads, adding additional poker-faced touches of scientific realism as well as designerly impact. Between this and 17 Things, Offill and Carpenter have established themselves as the official documentarians of misbehavior, and kids will revel in exploring their research.



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pp. 99-100
Launched on MUSE
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