Review Blog

Feb 04 2020

Edie's experiments: How to make friends by Charlotte Barkla

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Illus. by Sandy Flett. Penguin Random House, 2020. ISBN: 9781760891770.
(Age: 8-11) Highly recommended. Edie's experiments: How to make friends is book one in a new series written by Adelaide author Charlotte Barkla who has a background in civil engineering and physics teaching. She cleverly uses scientific language and her extensive knowledge of science and experiments to write an entertaining and humorous story about a young girl who is STEM obsessed fitting in at a new school.
Edie Baxter, aged 10-and-a-quarter years, has moved to a different area of the town as her Mum is beginning a new full-time job and her Dad has gone part-time to help look after Edie's two year old brother Max. Edie has left her best friend Winnie behind and is desperately keen to make friends on her first day at her new school. This is where the mayhem begins. Her first experiment to provide her new classmates and teacher with their own ball of slime is a disaster due to the air conditioning being turned off during lunchtime. Edie is sent to the Principal Mrs Newton, who has a distracting obsession with Chihuahuas, and is placed in detention on her first day. Not a good beginning.
Edie wants to make amends but everything she seems to try ends up being a disaster. As the story continues, you are drawn into the frustration Edie's character feels when all of her good ideas and what she sees as good deeds for science experiments seem to go completely wrong. However the main adults in her life and her best friend Winnie support and encourage Edie to persevere and not lose hope. Edie does triumph in the friendship department finally, but along the way she learns valuable lessons about interacting with adults and what may be appropriate conversations.
An interesting and clever aspect of the book is that all of Edie's scientific experiments are written up as procedures using the headings: Aim, Equipment and Method. This would be a perfect read-aloud class novel either by the teacher or whole class when the Year 3/4/5 curriculum calls for procedure writing. The imaginative illustrations by Sandy Flett add to the humour of the story and help keep the reader focused. A second book in the series, Edie's experiments 2: How to be the best is coming soon.
Themes: Science experiments, STEM, Making friends, New school, Family, Humour, Procedure writing.
Kathryn Beilby

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