Kudos once again to Buffy Silverman for her new book Can Old Dog Learn New Tricks? And Other Questions About Animals (illustrated by Colin W. Thompson).
Are bats blind? Does the early bird really catch the worm? Silverman’s book takes the approach of the TV show “Mythbusters,” but without the explosions. She examines seventeen common truisms or sayings, and finds out whether science backs them up or not.
What is important about this book, as with the others in the Is That A Fact? series, is that it encourages the young reader to fact-check information. Yes, it is easy to find almost anything on the Internet these days, but how can you sort the truth from the urban legends, myths, rumors, and general misinformation? By discussing what scientific investigations tell us, and also showing that we still don’t know all the details about certain things, Silverman teaches the importance of critical thinking and research.
I admit I love Buffy Silverman’s writing style. She knows how to find exactly the right word and convey the information in a clear, concise way. She also passed my personal test for accuracy when she nailed the “Does a Female Praying Mantis Really Eat Her Mate?” question. When scientists first studied this question, they used hungry females kept under stressful conditions and came up with the idea that the female had to eat her mate in order to produce eggs. Later observations showed, however, that under more natural conditions the female usually doesn’t eat her mate. The earlier idea was more startling, so it has persisted. Silverman does her part to set the record straight.
The best part about this book is that it is fun and enjoyable to read, (well, except maybe about the worm in the brain).Can an Old Dog Learn New Tricks? definitely got the tween boy stamp of approval.
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Library Binding: 40 pages
Publisher: Lerner Publications (March 2010)
(In case you were wondering, I picked this book up at the library and had no idea that Lerner Books was hosting today when I chose it.)