The Frog Scientist

 
(i)

 

Captivating look at a scientist and his work.

What parents need to know

Educational value

This volume offers a wealth of information to kids interested in science, discussing everything from the basics of the scientific method to the details of setting up a lab experiment to issues with industry funding of research.

Positive messages

Young readers will connect with Tyrone Hayes, who sometimes struggled as a student. This portrait shows how passion, hard work, and the support of a mentor can make a tremendous difference in a young person’s life. Research is very much a team effort, with professor and students working hard and playing hard.

Positive role models

The featured scientist made it into Harvard but still struggled to stay focused and motivated. He talks about the importance of finding a mentor, and how he now takes promising students under his own wing. He demonstrates persistence, hard work, courage, kindness, and humor. Many of the lab assistants are minorities and women.

Violence

Frogs are killed and dissected for the purposes of research -- it’s tastefully presented.

Sex
Not applicable
Language

A frog is affectionately described as looking like “a cow turd.”

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this captivating book brings kids right into the research lab. There are pictures of frogs being dissected, discussions of frogs intentionally being exposed to harmful chemicals and being killed for research, and explanations of the scientist’s theory on how a pesticide may be causing male frogs to develop female reproductive traits. This is all done in a straightforward manner, however, providing an illuminating and realistic portrayal of scientific research. The book blends plenty of science with an appealing, fully fleshed-out portrait of a talented scientist.

Parents say

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What's the story?

Amphibian scientist Tyrone Hayes is trying to understand why frog populations around the world are declining. He suspects a popular pesticide, atrazine, is causing feminization of male frogs -- causing them to grow eggs instead of sperm. This book explores Hayes’ research -- how he tests his hypothesis, the unique problems facing frogs, and the big-picture implications -- and describes his journey from a frog-crazy kid in the segregated South to a struggling student at Harvard and finally a respected leader in his field.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This is no dry book on frog life cycles. Author Pamela S. Turner skillfully weaves together many threads into a smooth, cohesive, irresistible story. On one level, it’s a mystery about the decline in frog populations and researchers’ scramble to understand it. On another level, it’s a textbook on how to undertake scientific research to tackle real-world problems. And finally, it’s an engaging, nuanced biography portraying scientist Tyrone Hayes as a child, a student, a father, a mentor, and a scientist.
Turner touches on everything from segregation and racism to achieving consensus in the scientific community to nurturing a team. There’s the big picture (how to test a hypothesis, for example) and satisfying detail (how to prepare slides of frog tissue, and why Hayes celebrates the Fifth of July). The well-organized text is complemented by vibrant photographs and a wealth of supplemental material for further exploration.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the difficulty of testing a hypothesis. Hayes ends up with unexpected results and new questions. If you were in his shoes, how would you feel? What would you do next?

  • Hayes intentionally contaminates a pond with atrazine, and kills frogs so he can study them. Do you think those actions are justified? Why or why not?

  • Try conducting an experiment at home. Develop a hypothesis, identify manipulated and responding variables, and have a control group. Try changing variables and see what happens.

Book details

Author:Pamela S. Turner
Illustrator:Andy Comins
Genre:Science
Book type:Non-Fiction
Publisher:Houghton Mifflin Children's Books
Publication date:July 1, 2009
Number of pages:64
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12
Read aloud:9
Read alone:9

This review of The Frog Scientist was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 10 years old January 9, 2010
 

Interesting

I believe this book is good for kids ages nine and up because in the book there is dissecting of frogs for scientific purposes, true, but it is still kind of gross and younger kids might not appreciate how there are detailed photos of that happening. For kids who DO read 'The Frog Scientist' I think they should know that a lot of the book is about the process in the lab to find out if atrazine is feminizing (turning boys into girls) the male frogs, and to do this they have to painlessly end the frogs life so they can dissect them. There is a big amount of science vocabulary, so it is best if a parent can help you with the words, unless you can fully operate the glossary in the back of the book. It was interesting to hear about the scientist's life as a kid and young adult because it made you feel connected to the story, plus it gave you some background information on why he wanted to be a scientist who studies frogs
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