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Doug Herridge and Susan Hughes
Toronto, HarperCollins, 1991. 80pp, paper, $12.95
ISBN 0-06-107408-X. Kit

Grades 4 to 6/Ages 9 to 11

Reviewed by Stan R. Kozak.

Volume 20 Number 2
1992 March

The Environmental Detective Kit joins the rush of materials to meet the renewed interest in the environment. The authors, science consultant and free-lance writer, respectively, have taken an eclectic approach to learning about the environment.

The book deals with a multitude of more or less environmental topics such as ant colonies, the water cycle, the food web, testing for acid rain, and composting. It suggests many activities and environmental tips for the reader to follow.

The kit consists of a small eighty-page booklet most suitable for students in grades 4 to 6, multi-use plastic case and assorted odds and ends needed to conduct investigations. These include plastic tweezers, pencil, pH paper and environmental detective badge. Sur­prisingly, a magnifying glass is not included.

Unfortunately, the kit suffers by trying to accomplish too many things and in effect not dealing with any one area adequately. The nature of the kit, with so many bits and pieces, makes it unsuitable for library usage. Some children might follow through with the activities; however, the small print and unrelated activities may lead many children to try one or two before they lose interest. Except for out-of-date information about CFCs, the content of the book is good. Nonetheless, the overall impression of the kit is gimmicky.

The kit coat-tails the Back Yard Acid Rain (BARK) monitoring program operated by Public Focus. It is not clear whether this organization has given its endorsement. The mailer card entices readers by suggesting they "Be a part of something Big"; however, it does not clearly explain how the results will be used.

Well-meaning adults may end up giving the kit to the kid who has everything, thus contributing to an environmental problem in itself.

Stan R. Kozak, Guelph, Ont.
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