Something Stinks: STEM Can Be Fiction, Too

When we think of promoting STEM books for kids, we usually think of nonfiction. Fiction can play a role as well, however, especially for the middle-grade reader.

In the middle-grade novel Something Stinks! by Gail Hedrick the main character, Emily, is an aspiring writer who finds out that science can help answer tough questions.

A lot of things change during middle school. Emily is discovering that her friends are looking and behaving in unexpected ways, and she isn’t sure how to react. On top of that, piles of fish are dying in the river near her uncle and aunt’s farm, and Emily wants to know why. Is it run off from local farms, pesticides from a nearby golf course, or pollutants from a local factory that are causing the fish to die? Will she be able to solve the mystery without getting into trouble and losing all her friends?

This is the type of book that is likely to inspire readers who might otherwise avoid STEM to give it a chance because it reveals how science can have important real-world applications. At the same time the characters are not hardcore science whizzes, but kids who many middle-grade readers will find easy to recognize, with problems that are relatable.

The waters are not always smooth as author sets up the characters and their conflicts in the beginning of the book. Once the story was underway, however, it becomes a compelling page turner.  In fact, Something Stinks! was chosen by the National Science Teachers Association – Children’s Book Council’s Outstanding Science Committee as an Outstanding Science Trade Book in 2014.

Want to encourage a middle grade reader to appreciate science? Give Something Stinks! a try.

  • Age Range: 9 – 12 years
  • Paperback: 183 pages
  • Publisher: Tumblehome Learning, Inc. (April 1, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0985000899
  • ISBN-13: 978-0985000899

Disclosure: This book was provided electronically for review. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

3 Replies to “Something Stinks: STEM Can Be Fiction, Too”

  1. I recommend a book by Jim West called Libellus de Numeros (The Book of Math) that my 11-year-old daughter just finished reading. The story is about Alex, a young precocious girl, who mysteriously gets transported to a strange world where Latin and Math combine in formulas and equations with magical effects. With a cruel council leading the only safe city of its kind in this world, she will have to prove her worth to stay as well as help this city as it is the target for two evil wizards who seek to destroy the city and its ruling council. To help the city and also get back home, she will need the help of the greatest mathematician of all time, Archimedes. In a world where math is magic, Alex wishes she paid more attention in math class.

    A Goodread 5-star review said:

    “The storyline inspires a hunger for knowledge and a ‘can do’ attitude – a strong message of empowerment for young readers. I’m sure that this book will be interesting to read for both, boys and girls, as well as adult readers. Libellus de Numeros means ‘Book of Numbers’ and it’s a magical textbook in the story. Math and science are wonderfully incorporated into a captivating plot: Latin and math are presented as exciting tools to make ‘magic’ and while Latin is often used as a language of magic the addition of math is definitely a fresh approach.

    “The main heroine Alex is a very relatable character for young people, especially girls. I love that she has her flaws and goes through struggles all too familiar to a lot of young people. Alex is an authentic female role model – a very courageous girl, who is not afraid to stand up for herself and others and who is able to learn fast how to use knowledge to her best advantage.

    “She can definitely do everything that boys can and I find this to be a very powerful message that is needed in our modern society. Furthermore, it was a pleasure to read through the pages of a well-formatted eBook. Highly recommended!”

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