"In the tradition of "Casey at the Bat" and Edgar Allen Poe." —Daniel Pinkwater on NPR
"Sierra spins an impeccably rhymed yarn about a last minute science-fair experiment gone fabulously amok."
--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
The Secret Science Project That Almost Ate the School Illustrated by Stephen Gammell. Simon & Schuster.
The Story Behind the Book
I wanted to write a picture book about a popular elementary school tradition, and decided upon a science fair. What if a lazy student bought a science project on the Internet? What if that science project turned out to be very dangerous? I researched genuine science fair projects until I found one that might wreak havoc: the old yeast-eats-sugar-and-gets-really-really-big experiment. The most difficult part of The Secret Science Project that Almost Ate the School was telling the story in perfect metered rhyme. It took four years and two editors to get it just right. The art of Stephen Gammell is beautiful and funny and frightening, all at the same time. No wonder he has received some of the most important awards for illustrating children's books.
A little-known fact about The Secret Science Project that Almost Ate the School:
I wrote the book in the first person, and although I imagined this narrator as a boy, I never used the word "he." When the illustrator, Stephen Gammell, read the manuscript, he was adamant that the narrator be a girl. Why? The character said "kitty cat," and according to him, no boy would every say "kitty cat." Who was I to argue? Once I saw his drawing of the girl, I thought she was perfect. But when the editor, Paula Wiseman, told me that she and Stephen had begun calling the character "Judy," I put my foot down. A character named Judy would never cheat in a science fair (at least not in one of my books)!
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