About the Holiday
World Creativity and Innovation Day has been observed by citizens and organizations in over 50 countries since 2002. In 2018, the United Nations (U.N.) formally established the holiday to promote the importance of creativity and innovation in all aspects of human development, both at the individual and group levels. This day also highlights the importance of applying creativity and innovation to problem-solving for today’s pressing issues, including scientific, economic, social, and sustainable development. Kids seem to do this inherently as they go about exploring and interacting with all the new things they see, hear, and do every day Books like today’s featured title can spur children to put their own unique talents to work to change an improve the world for all. To learn more about World Creativity and Innovation Day, visit the UN website.
Thanks to Betsy Ellor and Yeehoo Press for sharing a digital copy of My Dog Is NOT a Scientist with me for review consideration. All opinions on the book are my own.
My Dog is NOT a Scientist
Written by Betsy Ellor | Illustrated by Louisa Vera
Yara knows she’s the best scientist in town, but how can she prove it when she always loses the school science fair to her neighbor Eddie, who taunts her about being older and smarter and not having a dog like Renzo to mess up his experiments. This year, though, Yara is determined to win. She already has her question to explore: “What makes paper airplanes fly?” and lots of planes to experiment with. But within minutes Renzo has chased down and torn them all apart. “RENZO!!” Yara yells. “Real scientists don’t chase their experiments,” says Eddie.
Next, Yara chooses to use her scientific observational skills to see if she can illuminate a lightbulb with a lemon. But again Renzo causes a catastrophe and Eddie is right there to see it and make a comment. Undaunted, however, Yara decides to test her hypothesis about “what makes grass grow fast.” She marks off sections of her backyard that are sunny, shady, dry, and wet and gets to work. Renzo feels the call of nature, too – only in a . . . umm . . . different way than Yara. And, yep, Eddie sees it too.
With one week to go to the science fair, Yara comes up with a hypothesis about insects and does a little problem-solving by erecting a Renzo-free tent to carry out her experiment. Maybe Renzo can’t read or maybe he just has to know, but that dogged dog digs deep and finds a way to upset another experiment.
Now the science fair is tomorrow, and while Eddie has a neat and tidy, perfect-looking project to present, “all Yara has to show is Renzo’s damage.” How can she report what she’s learned like a real scientist when she hasn’t learned anything? Yara thinks. With tears in her eyes she’s ready to concede to Renzo that “Eddie’s right…. You’re NOT a scientist . . . and neither am I.” But then Yara looks at her experiments in a different way—from Renzo’s point of view. Renzo, she realized, asked questions, made observations, and “even formed a hypothesis and tested it.”
Her new perspective gave Yara another idea for her science project. The next day at the science fair, Renzo was Yara’s star exhibit. “Is My Dog a Scientist?” her display asked. Yara tells the judges how Renzo followed his curiosity, how he asked questions, observed, made a hypothesis, and then tested it—just like a scientist. “‘My project proves my dog really IS a scientist,’” she said. The judges agreed and presented Yara with the first-place ribbon. Even though Eddie whined, Yara knew she and Renzo were the best scientists in town—and now everyone else knew it too.
Back matter includes a step-by-step description of the scientific method, some question starters to get young scientists thinking about their own hypotheses, seven questions to spark experimentation, and an invitation for readers to email Yara and Renzo about their experiments. More ideas for experimentation as well as a curriculum guide are also available on Betsy Ellor’s website.
In her clever and creative story, Betsy Ellor perfectly melds the scientific method with sure-to-produce-guffaws humor that will make this book a favorite with kids who are already hard-core scientists as well as those who just like tinkering to explore life’s mysteries. Yara’s determination to win the science fair provides Ellor with a compelling frame to drop examples of real science-based questions and vocabulary into realistic dialog and suspenseful storytelling. The competition between Yara and Eddie also increases the stakes and will have readers rooting for Yara through every mishap. Yara’s inspired thinking on the night before the science fair encourages kids to never give up and prompts them to look at problems with new perspectives and fresh ideas.
Luisa Vera gives kids so much to see and think about in her dynamic illustrations that readers will love exploring for the science, humor, and plentiful details that define the scientific method while demonstrating Yara’s and Eddie’s different approaches to research. But with Yara’s first exasperated “RENZO!!” all eyes will be on this mischievous mutt who just can’t help it if he has a heart for science and a penchant for mischief. Renzo’s various antics will have kids laughing out loud through each of Yara’s experiments and even to the science fair, where even Eddie’s entry attracts the “Renzo” effect.
Funny, effervescent, and loaded with real science, My Dog Is NOT a Scientist is sure to be a catalyst to spark kids’ interest in and understanding of the scientific method as well as the idea that scientific observation and experimentation is a creative process and one that can be unique to each person. The book would enhance any science curriculum for teachers or homeschoolers and is highly recommended for home, classroom, school, and public library collections.
Ages 4 – 8
Yeehoo Press, 2023 | ISBN 978-1953458469
Discover the real-life inspiration behind My Dog is NOT a Scientist!
About the Author
Betsy Ellor lives in a home filled with kid shenanigans, canine chaos and creative projects run wild. Her picture book debut, My Dog is NOT a Scientist launches in 2023 from Yeehoo Press. Her 2021 anthology Heroic Care: 35 Writers & Artists Show What It Means To Care reached the top 30 on Amazon, and her family musical Sara Crewe has been performed across the US.
Midwest-born, Betsy started as a playwright, earning a degree in Creative Writing from Ball State University before shifting her focus to novels and picture books. Betsy works as an interior designer. This explains her uniquely visual voice and her passion for stories that keep creative thinking at the heart of scientific exploration. Betsy lives near the beach in Massachusetts with her son and dog (aka the bringers of chaos). She spends way too much time on the computer but frequently escapes for hiking, biking, paddle boarding, and beach time. Visit Betsy on her website.
About the Illustrator
Luisa Vera was born in Elda, Alicante. After Luisa finished her fine-arts career in Valencia, she went to New York, where she attended the School of Visual Arts. Since 1990, she has dedicated herself professionally to illustration. She is the author/illustrator of Let’s Go to the Museum, a Modern Art Museum Maze and has illustrated Casas del mundo, Salta que salta, among other Spanish-language titles for children. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Dallas Morning News, the Wall Street Journal, the International Herald Tribune, and The Vanguard, and her characters have worn their best clothes on book covers, posters, catalogs, children’s stories, and exhibitions. Luisa lives in Barcelona, Spain. You can follow Luisa Vera on Instagram.
Meet Yara and Renzo in this sneak peek of the book!
World Creativity and Innovation Day Activity
Kids love inventing and experimenting, and these sparkle test tubes give children a fun way to be creative while making a cool way to relax and on those hectic days.
- Plastic test tubes with tight-fitting screw cap, available at craft or science supply stores. Having two or three will allow for more experimentation
- Glitter glue
- Hot water
- Fine glitter
- Chunky glitter
- Small glass beads (optional)
- Neon food coloring (optional)
- Test tube stand (optional)
- Mixing bowl
- Fill a test tube 1/3 full of hot water and pour the water into the mixing bowl
- Add 1 – 2 teaspoons of glitter glue (the more glitter glue that is added the thicker the liquid will be and the more the objects will be suspended in the liquid. To allow the objects to flow more freely when the test tube is shaken, add less glue
- Whisk the water and glitter glue together
- Add chunky glitter, glass beads, or try other small objects
- Pour into test tube
- Add more water to within a ½ – 1 inch of the top to allow for shaking
- Experiment with amount of glitter glue, glitter, and colors
Are your kids excited to discover more about the world – and even the cookies they like – through experiments like Yara and Renzo? Then they’ll love the 13 fun and eye-opening experiments on Betsy Ellor’s website. You’ll find them here!
A My Dog is NOT a Scientist Curriculum Guide for teachers, homeschoolers, librarians, and group leaders is also available for download on Betsy Ellor’s website here!
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