Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Fergus and Zeke at the Science Fair by Kate Messner, illustrated by Heather Ross

Fergus and Zeke at
the Science Fair book cover
The classroom mice duo from last year's Fergus and Zeke are back for a second round of adventures. This time the kids in the mice's classroom are getting ready for the science fair and Fergus and Zeke want to participate too. But each project the mice try to copy goes humorously wrong. Finally, the pair decide their experiment will be to train the kid using them as an experiment!

Ross's digital illustrations are bright and cheery. Targeting the upper range of the award criteria, the longer chapters (approximately 10 pages each) are broken up with a combination of spot and full-bleed illustrations. As is suitable for this reading level the illustrations provide some context for new words and concepts, especially how each experiment works, but there are fairly large text blocks as well. 

Messner builds repetition into the text quite often. For instance, the word "experiment" is used 5 times in the first chapter alone. There are a few multi syllablic words used only once, which could trip up some readers; words like "announcement" and "masterpieces." But for the most part new words are repeated to allow for lots of practice.
Image of mice listening to a teacher read and doing classwork from Fergus and Zeke at the Science Fair.
This is a school-oriented story with a rather obviously educational bent to it. In fact, nit would have been nice to have back matter with step by step instructions for each of the experiments mentioned in the text. It certainly has plenty of supportive features, but I wonder if it will provide enough page turning appeal for readers. What do you think?
Image of a school science fair from Fergus and Zeke at the Science Fair.

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