Thursday, October 13, 2011

11 Experiments That Failed

I loved this picture book by the team that created 17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore! But I'd think twice before putting it in the hands of children. Why? They might be tempted to try one of these zany experiments on their own. I know I would have. When I was seven or so I learned that as a child my father stuck coins up his nose to see how many could fit. My grandparents couldn't extract them and a doctor was called. What did I do upon hearing this? You guessed it, I promptly shoved a dime up my little nose. If this book was available then, who knows what havoc I would have caused.

My experiment was nothing compared to the 11 ones here, which progressively get more outlandish. The format for each experiment is structured according to the scientific method--with hilarious results: a question, such as "Will a piece of bologna fly like a Frisbee?", a hypothesis--A piece of bologna will fly like a Frisbee.", the steps of what to do--"Take bologna off your sandwich. Aim at friend. Shout 'Catch!' Hurl bologna through air.", and what happened--"Teacher caught bologna with his head. No recess."

By the last experiment the girl protagonist has grown fungus in her brother's sneaker, sprinkled glitter on the dog, attempted to order a beaver, used up her mother's expensive bottle of perfume, broken all the family's dishes in the washing machine, and flooded the house. All in the name of science!

The illustrations are a fun mix of pen-and-ink drawings, notebook sketches, photos, and diagrams. Budding mad scientists will snatch this excellent picture books off the shelves. You may want to put it out of reach!

11 Experiments That Failed
by Jenny Offill
illustrations by Nancy Carpenter
Schwartz & Wade books, 40 pages
Published: September 2011


  1. With more and more kids as young as kindergarten and first grade being required to do "science projects," this could be as good a method as any to "teach" them the procedures! It sounds like a fun book, and it has great reviews.

  2. It's a lot of fun and the curiosity of the young girl highlights how everyday objects are worthy of exploration.

  3. I just put this one on hold. It looks great.