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 THE GREAT ESCAPE! by Kate Biberdorf


From the Kate the Chemist series, volume 2

by Kate Biberdorf with Hillary Homzie

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-593-11658-6
Publisher: Philomel

Kate and friends learn chemistry and friendship through fun, gross science.

Ten-year-old Kate is superexcited about the Fall Science Challenge. The winners will demonstrate a Vomiting Pumpkin stunt! But in her team’s haste to make the best Ghost (vapor from water and dry ice) and Moon Rocks (lemon juice on colored baking soda), they fight with another team, which leads to a minor injury. Kate and her teammates, Birdie and Phoenix, don’t get a detention but a lesson in cooperation. The two squabbling teams are assigned to pretest an escape room. As a consequence for fighting in school while using potentially dangerous substances, it’s an unusual choice, but it certainly leads to a clever, multichapter puzzle. While this escape room wouldn’t be the best choice for an actual classroom—to solve it, the students rely on outside knowledge from the YouTube videos of author avatar Dr. Caroline and use a steamer while unsupervised—it’s a whiz of an adventure when it’s safely fiction. Accurately representing escape rooms, the puzzles are not solvable by readers, who don’t have access to the physical artifacts. The excitement of brainstorming under a time limit, however, comes through. Clip-art–style illustrations are scattered throughout the short chapters, and one experiment, requiring some special equipment, is provided in detail. Kate and Phoenix are White; Birdie is South Asian.

A lightweight cooperation lesson wrapped in slime.

(Fiction. 8-10)