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Magnetic Magic (Science and Math Through Picture Books) Review by Karen Waide

Terry Catasus Jennings
Arbordale Publishing
612 Johnnie Dodds, Suite A2
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464

Just as we were getting ready to start our science unit on magnets, I was given the opportunity to receive a wonderful book to supplement our study. We were sent the picture book titled, Magnetic Magic, written by Terry Catasus Jennings, and illustrated by Andrea Gabriel. This book is one of over one hundred picture books from Arbordale Publishing that focus on science and/or math in fun, entertaining ways. As I was perusing the list of their books, I realized Arbordale Publishing had published several books we have taken out of the library as a part of our homeschool lessons.

Magnetic Magic is a 32-page picture book about a girl named Dena who likes to perform magic tricks for younger children at the pool. These tricks are all possible thanks to magnetism. However, the younger children really thought she was magically moving a paperclip across a board, predicting where a floating stone would point when it stopped spinning, and floating a magnet down a pipe. Dena didn't care that she was fooling the younger children this way; however, one day she was challenged by a new boy named Enrique who knew the secret to her magic tricks. He didn't think it was right that she was tricking them, so he decided to teach her a lesson.

He dared her to use an old map to find a treasure at the bottom of an oak tree. The book explains how she worked out how to follow the map using a compass and parallel ruler. Surprisingly the tree wasn't where she was expecting it to be. She finally realized where the tree had been, though it was now a stump, but she couldn't figure out why her figuring had been so far off. Enrique explained that the earth's magnetic field moves, which Dena hadn't known. She was upset because he tricked her, which of course was the point of his dare. He wanted to show her that it wasn't right to trick people.   

Thanks to Enrique, Dena learned her lesson. She was able to share with the children at the pool the truth about how she had performed her magic tricks.

In addition to the story, the book also contains a section called “For Creative Minds.” This four-page section shares more about magnetism and magnets, and map skills. You will then find four different activities to make your own “magnetic magic,” all of which were mentioned in the story. You and your children can learn to move paperclips, float a lodestone, make a magnet hover, and float a magnet in a pipe.

Not only will you find these great teaching activities in the back of the book, but there are wonderful resources online as well. These resources are available for all of their books. There is a 30-page “Teaching Activities” pdf which contains such things as comprehension questions, vocabulary activities, sentence sequencing, map activities, and coloring pages. You will find a pdf of the “For Creative Minds” information, identical to that found in the book. There is a quizzes section, which supplies quizzes in reading, math, and for the “For Creative Minds” section. The site also allows teachers/parents to check out reading levels and standards information.

We enjoyed the story in this book, which helped us all learn a bit more about magnets. Even mommy didn't know that the earth's magnetic field moves over time. I also appreciated that Dena was taught a lesson in honesty. The full page illustrations are colorful and realistic, and the text font is large, making it easy to read.

I was really impressed by all of the resources available, both at the back of the book and online. Additionally, the information in the book is verified by reputable sources. This book was a wonderful supplement to our magnet unit and is a resource I can highly recommend.

The paperback copy that we received sells for $9.95, and the hard cover is $17.95. This book is appropriate for children aged 4-8, or in grades K through 3rd grade. My children all enjoyed the book and were drawn into the story. They range from 4-9 years old.

- Product review by Karen Waide, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January, 2017