Friday, March 28, 2014

Book Review :: Nature Girl by Karen Whiting and Rebecca White

Nature Girl is a fun book for anyone who is interested in going green. (And although this book is directed at girls, most of the information, activities, and experiments would be great for any kid - boy or girl.)

The book is broken up into 10 chapters dealing with different aspects of being green - topics such as: skin/body care, healthy eating, animals, water, air, energy/power, reusing and recycling, and more. Each chapter gives a little bit of information about the particular topic, lists various activities and things to try (including many specific recipes and experiments), and brings it all back to God with Bible verses. At the end of each chapter is a "Real Girl" portion (describing a real girl/woman who is relevant to the chapter), a Quiz (which is generally used as a new way of introducing new information, as opposed to a traditional quiz which would be checking to see what you learned from the chapter), and a short list of Eco-Careers (again, relevant to the topic of that particular chapter).

Just to give an example of the variety of recipes/activities/experiments in this book, I will list the titles of a few:

- Flavored Lip Gloss
- Shelly's Brown Sugar Foot Scrub
- Buttermilk Fruit Smoothie
- English Muffin Pizzas
- Soil Drainage Test
- Whole-Wheat Doggie Treats
- Oil Spill Cleanup Experiment
- Zesty Citrus Spritz
- Easy Lovin' Solar Oven
- Plastic Bottle Cap Necklaces
- Spirit-Filled Trail Mix
- Going-Green Greeting Cards

...and there are many more in the book that I haven't listed here.

I think that this is a great resource for Girl Scout leaders, and would also be great for homeschoolers or teachers who are looking for "earthy" activities and experiments. As I mentioned previously, the majority of the information in this book would be useful for boys, too.

As much as I did enjoy this book, I thought there were quite a few minor improvements that would have taken this from "good" to "great":
- Although I understand that this book is geared toward tween girls, I don't think it is necessary to include terminology such as "Snaps!", "diff" (as opposed to "difference"), "duh", "BFF", "your crush", and "fave". It just seems to dumb-down the book rather than enhance it. Kids' books can use "real" words while still keeping kids interested.
- There are quite a few typos and formatting errors in the book. I shared the information with the publisher and was told that the errors I told them about will be corrected in future printings, but I did feel the need to mention them as they were quite distracting.
- Some of the Bible verses that the authors use seem to be pulled from a random search of one word, and are included in the book even though the context/content of the passage is totally unrelated. This is not the case for all of the scriptures that were used in this book, but there were a couple that stood out.
- Some of the experiments/things to try would greatly benefit from diagrams and/or drawings to help the directions be better understood.
- A couple of the quizzes say how many points you get for your answers, but don't explain which answers are the best choices (for learning purposes). I noticed this in particular in the quizzes for chapters 7 & 10.
- Some of the content brings up choices that are made in places such as a grocery store, when I would guess that the majority of the time 9-12 year olds are not the final decision makers in a grocery shopping situation. It seems like the aim for these parts is off - it should probably be directed at getting the girl to discuss the situation with their parent/guardian instead of being assumed that the girl has the decision-making power.

Even though my list of issues with the book looks long, it really is just minor things. Overall, this is an interesting, useful book that I look forward to using with all of my kids. In fact, I am considering making the Easy-Cheesy Stuffed Zucchini for dinner...and you may find me sharing a version of the Oh-So-Fab Air Freshener on my blog in the near future.
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

No comments: