Sourcebooks Explore. Apr. 2021. 224p. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781728223742.
Gr 6 Up–This book by Fairclough, Chris Ferrie, and Byrne LaGinestra blends lessons on science with instructions on how to play practical jokes on friends and family. Guidelines about pranking others (don’t ruin their clothes; make it fun; clean up your mess) are shared in the introduction. The 25 pranks are organized into four sections: “Making a Mess,” “Wanna Bet?,” “Clean Classics,” and “Messing with a Mind.” Some experiments are silly, some are messy, and others might be a little tricky. Each prank is covered in four spreads. The first page rates the prank according to who would make the perfect victim; there’s also a rating scale that determines how much of a mess is involved, the danger level, funniness, and science. Some include a difficulty rating. Readers will appreciate a shopping list (most items can be found in the household pantry) and a section for notes to a “future self” on what worked and what didn’t. The authors then guide pranksters through several steps, from start to finish. The third spread provides an explanation of how or why it worked. The last spread offers “Next Level” ideas, additional science information, and a “prank review.” “Did you know?” comments are sprinkled throughout. The illustrations are digitally rendered. Some pranks are easily explained; others require math calculations to show how the probabilities worked. A lengthy glossary defines in-depth science and math vocabulary. This title is best used with adult guidance.
VERDICT The book’s concept is encouraging and playful, but it is not a text that most kids will seek out at a library. Purchase if additional funds are available to upgrade science experiment collections.

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