The Birthday ­Blastoff

Philomel. (Kate the Chemist: Bk. 4). May 2021. 144p. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9780593116647.
Gr 2-5–The fourth adventure in the “Kate the Chemist” series follows the titular hero as she navigates chemistry experiments, rocket launches, school drama, and more. Kate befriends a new member of the science club, Tala, and the two bond over a shared passion for science. But their burgeoning friendship causes Birdie, Kate’s art-loving best friend, to feel isolated. She immediately distances herself from the pair, much to Kate’s confusion and dismay. Meanwhile, the science club plans a rocket launch, an experiment suggested by Tala. There is one major problem: The launch falls on the exact same day and time as Kate’s younger brother’s birthday party. Through clever thinking and no shortage of STEM, Kate works out a way to attend both events, mend friendships, create new ones, and support her brother. Kate and her family are white, Tala and her family are Filipino, and their classmates are racially diverse. Instructions for a double balloon rocket experiment, including materials, protocol, and an explanation of the science behind the experiment, follow the story.
VERDICT With numerous scientific concepts and terms scattered throughout, this pleasant title will appeal to fans of other STEM-infused series like Emily Calandrelli’s “Ada Lace” and Asia Citro’s “Zoey and Sassafras.” An additional purchase for middle grade collections.

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