How to Make a Planet
Young readers can follow along as two children perform an experiment in which they create a new planet, replicating in ten steps the exact processes that formed Earth. Within that context, author Scott Forbes manages to clearly explain basic concepts that span the science curriculum, including: chemistry (atoms, protons, neutrons, elements), physics (gravity), astronomy (star formation, supernovas, galaxies, the Milky Way, black holes), earth science (temperature, atmosphere, the water cycle, surface plates and how they've changed) and biology (cells, single-celled organisms, evolution, extinction).
Personal asides and exclamations about what the children are experiencing, along with lively and fun color illustrations by Jean Camden throughout, bring energy to the text and keep the story moving. There are helpful sidebars in each chapter that highlight or expand upon the nearby concepts. Reference tools include two easy-to-understand time lines, including one that covers the history of planet Earth from the Big Bang to today, with time going forward on one side to show how long after the Big Bang an event occurred, and time going backward on the other to show how many years ago it happened. This concept is reinforced in every chapter with a “Time Check” box containing bulleted information that describes what's happening. Further rounding out this comprehensive book are an Amazing Facts page, a glossary and an index. With the current emphasis on teaching literacy across all subject areas, this book, with its use of a narrative story to explore scientific ideas, would make an excellent resource for science teachers.