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Oh no! Otis needs a science fair project in a hurry. The problem is that all the good ideas are already taken and the judges will arrive on Friday. Luckily a blue jay outside the classroom window inspires Otis to make a bird feeder and observe which birds come to it. Even when other kids question the "scientificness" of his project and no birds come to the feeder, Otis doesn t give up winning the prize for stick-to-it-iveness.
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Nancy Poydar's experiences as an elementary school teacher inspire and inform her reassuring picture books about children. Now a full-time author and artist, she lives with her husband in Wayland, Massachusetts.Review:
School stories are Poydar’s niche, and this latest fits right in, addressing the (n)ever-popular science fair. One week before the big day, Otis still doesn’t have a project, while all around, his classmates busily make observations, take measurements and record data. His laid-back teacher subtly points him toward a project perfectly suited to his interests: birds. Otis spends Monday and Tuesday preparing a milk carton to serve as a birdfeeder, while his classmates pooh-pooh not only his idea but his materials and his entire project. Doggedly, he sticks with it, recording his observations, which include a lack of birds. On Friday, Otis still has no bird sightings, but the judges are impressed with his persistence and award him the “Stick-with-It Prize.” And just as it is awarded, everyone sees birds at his feeder. Teachers will appreciate Mr. Zee’s parting line as a classmate tells Otis he is lucky: “Stick-to-it-iveness isn’t luck.” The author’s gouache-and-pencil illustrations portray a busy classroom full of budding scientists. A list of science project ideas to search for in the artwork provides added dimension. A great book for sharing with classes on many levels, this is both a good primer for science fairs and for skills such as being a good friend, appreciating differences and persistence. (Picture book. 6-9)
While Otis’ classmates are working on their science-fair projects, he is still choosing his idea. Finally, he brings a milk carton and birdseed to school, constructs and paints a bird feeder, hangs it outside the classroom window, and watches for birds, documenting day after day that none have arrived. When the science-fair judges visit the class, he shows them his project, explains that he is waiting for birds, and receives “the Stick-with-It Prize.” Children who have had similar experiences will empathize with Otis’ difficulty in choosing a topic and his disappointment when it doesn’t work out as planned, but the book affirms the importance of observations. Poydar uses dialogue effectively in the appealing text, while her brightly colored, gouache illustrations show a classroom bustling with children engaged in science-related activities. The final page, listing the students’ projects and giving page numbers where they appear in the illustrations, could be a good starting place for other young children overwhelmed by science-fair choices.
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