Zoey and Sassafras: Monsters and Mold by Asia Citro, Illustrated by Marion Lindsay

We can't get enough of this new STEM-focused fiction series!

Plus, it's a brand-new month, which means I'm also over at Pam Barnhill's site sharing homeschool solutions for the preschool years -- find out what this month's topic is at the bottom of this post!

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I received a free copy of this product from Innovation Press in exchange for writing a review.  All opinions are my own.

As soon as I finished reading Gv the first Zoey & Sassafras book a few weeks ago, she's been begging me to read the next one in the series -- which we actually didn't have -- until this showed up:

OhMyGoodness, I'm surprised you didn't hear our squeals all the way to your house, because between the two of us, we couldn't stop doing the happy dance for hours!

If you missed my review of the first book in this fabulous new series, first head on over here to read all about Dragons and Marshmallows.

All caught up now?


Let me tell you, we had high expectations for this book after going so ga-ga over the last one -- expectations so high, I didn't see how this book could reach them.

But it did.

Just as before, Gv and I sat and didn't budge until I'd read the whole entire thing, from the front cover to the back!

And of course she wanted me to start reading the next one immediately, but my poor little voice needed a bit of a break!

In this second book, we meet a poor little forest monster who dreams of attending the annual Monster Ball, but just can't because he's got a little bit of a mold problem...

He shows up at Zoey's door, hoping for some help, and she and Sassafras do their darnedest to fairy-godmother him off to the ball.

You'll have to read the book yourself to see whether he makes it or not, but I can promise that you'll find the same seamless scientific learning woven throughout this book (along with plenty of Marion Lindsay's lively illustrations) just like in Dragons and Marshmallows.

Gv immediately made a connection to her beloved Peg + Cat while reading this book, because Sassafras is a similarly stupendous sidekick and helps Zoey figure things out just like Cat does for Peg.

I love how author Asia Citro provides so many great science-themed activity ideas throughout the pages -- like creating a homemade volcano or making homemade playdough!

(Conveniently, Asia's written a handy little book that includes all sorts of great exploration activities just like those in her The Curious Kids' Science Book.)

The author also continues to walk young readers through the scientific process, which I know from years of teaching takes quite a while to sink in for little brains. 

She's still loving her personalized science notebook and thinking goggles!

Like the first book, Monsters and Mold contains a glossary explaining more about the main scientific concepts found within the pages. I love how the topics tackled in these books cover interesting subjects that kids can relate to -- this one was on mold and preservatives and led to many hours of exploration for us after we finished reading!

Once Gv realized I wasn't going to read her the third book in the series right then and there, she decided to keep the Zoey & Sassafras fun going a bit longer by doing our own mold experiment.

She donned her thinking goggles and asked to do the same thing we'd just read about in the book.

This book is definitely a read-aloud for us at the moment, but that doesn't stop Gv from "reading" it on her own over and over each day!

Since we didn't have piles of moldy monster fur laying around, we decided to use bread, instead. 

We cut five 2-inch squares of yummy homemade bread slices and put each one in a bag. Gv requested that we use the same preservatives as Zoey did in the book and she made the same guess as she did while reading for which preservative would work the best at preventing mold growth.

Bringing a little science into the kitchen!

She insisted that we fill out her science notebook like Zoey does, which meant that I did the writing as we talked about all the parts of the scientific process that we were exploring.

Everything for the experiment all ready to go!

We put the bags out on our warm back porch and then Gv begged me to make a recording of it all so she could share her experiment with the world.

Hoping the mold likes our warm, humid back porch!

You can have a laugh and watch her antics over on the Syncopated Mama Facebook page (make my day and leave a "like" or follow while you're there!) as well as find out what her hypothesis is for this little test.

The version you can see was actually take #3 of her little spiel, because takes 1 and 2 had to be tossed out due to excessive dress-lifting incidents! You'll notice that she's a bit distracted for this one, but that's because she'd already gone through it all twice!

If you watch that little video, you'll notice that Gv even decided to come up with her own experiment after we'd set up the moldy bread one. I loved how she went and hunted down the baggies, cut same-sized pieces of drinking straws, and labeled the bags with the first letter of each preservative she wanted to use before asking me to add the pepper, oil and other ingredients so she could see for herself how well they kept the plastic straw pieces from molding!

You know those times when things get completely silent, and you go "uh, oh" and race into your child's bedroom, expecting to see total destruction? How great do you think it was that I discovered her in there, working away at her own little version of the experiment?

Sugar, oil, pepper and vinegar (look sideways...it's more "U" than "V"). Which do you think will keep the plastic straw from molding best? {wink}

So if you haven't already, pick up a copy of Zoey and Sassafras: Monsters and Mold for your own budding scientists -- and while you're at it, be sure to grab books one and three in this fantastic series as well!

And hey -- it's also a new month, which means I'm over at Pam Barnhill's site again sharing homeschool solutions for the preschool years.

This time, I've written a post on 5 Easy Ways to Promote Preschool Science Skills, so be sure to hop on over there and check it out!

Have you been looking for a fun children's book series that focuses on STEM topics like this one?  I'd love to hear!  Either leave a comment below or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.

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