Book Review | A wicked science-based series for #MGLit readers: Galactic Academy of Science: “The Contaminated Case of the Cooking Contest” by Peter Y. Wong & Pendred Noyce

Posted Sunday, 3 January, 2016 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By:

I was selected to review “The Contaminated Case of the Cooking Contest” by JKS Communications: A Literary Publicity Firm. JKS is the first publicity firm I started working with when I launched Jorie Loves A Story in August, 2013. I am honoured to continue to work with them now as a 2nd Year Book Blogger. I received my complimentary copy of The Contaminated Case of the Cooking Contest direct from the publisher Tumblehome Learning in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I am finding Tumblehome Learning such a great publisher:

My introduction to the publisher was by way of The Walking Fish, a story that left a firm impression on my mind and heart about two authors who were attempting to make ‘science palpable for young readers’ and turnt out a wicked good story! As you will see in my review of that particular story, I applaud writers who can create a niche out of science and bring science to an audience of younger readers who may not already find science a stimulating entreaty into understanding life and the environs in which we live.

Being able to ‘try out’ one of the serial installments for the Galactic Academy of Science was a special treat because this series has sparked supplemental materials for both teachers and parents, who want to encourage their science-curious young minds to explore more than what is contained inside the book itself. I find it quite wicked that a publisher has found a cross-media way to explore stories and how those stories are evolving into thought-provoking projects to get kids interested in science. Anything that engages with hands-on learning and thought-producing after effects is something I will be standing behind as I grew up learning science at the community Science Center where nothing was off-limits and topics of discussion grew out of natural bourne curiosity. It was a lot of wicked fun over the Summers, but more than anything, I appreciated a stimulating environment to ask ‘how’ and ‘why’ and find answers that re-inspired me to continue to learn even more.

If books and publishers can bring that same sense of curiosity to readers, who might not even have a Science Center to attend – what explosive fun that would be! Definitely applaud Tumblehome Learning to continue to bridge the gaps between where those of us who are naturally curious about science and those who are not entirely sure they want to love science can come together through the craft of stories with characters who inspire everyone who picks up this series to read.

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Book Review | A wicked science-based series for #MGLit readers: Galactic Academy of Science: “The Contaminated Case of the Cooking Contest” by Peter Y. Wong & Pendred NoyceThe Contaminated Case of the Cooking Contest

Middle school students Mae and Clinton are excited to be aboard a Caribbean cruise that features cooking contests for adults and teens. But when passengers start falling ill, Selectra Volt, their Galactic Academy of Science guide from the future, challenges them to find the cause. Is the outbreak a result of poor food handling, or is someone purposely sabotaging the ship’s food supply?

Mae and Clinton learn about food safety through a series of visits to scientists, doctors, and inventors of the past and present. They visit Nicholas Appert, who invented canning to feed Napoleon’s army; Clarence Birdseye, who learned about freezing fish from the Inuit in the Arctic; John Snow, who discovered the cause of a cholera outbreak in Victorian London; Typhoid Mary, who unknowingly caused illness in seven families she worked for; Ferran Adria, a master of creative cooking; and present-day scientists studying food-borne illness at the CDC in Atlanta and a U.S. Army research facility in Natick, Massachusetts.

Between trips, Mae and Clinton make new friends, compete in the kids’ cooking contest, help out in the ship infirmary, test food samples for bacteria, gather clues, and follow suspicious characters. As the ship sails through the edge of a hurricane and the ship infirmary fills to overflowing, the Clinton and Mae risk their lives getting medical supplies, gather evidence, and sift through a pile of suspects.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780990782926

on 1st June, 2015

Pages: 174

Published By: Tumblehome Learning (@TumblehomeLearn)

Available Formats: Paperback and Ebook

For more information check out this Galactic Academy series page!

Converse via Twitter: #GalacticAcademyOfScience

#TumblehomeLearning and #JKSLitPublicity

About Peter Y. Wong

Peter Y. Wong

Peter has been involved with engineering research and education throughout his career as a Research Associate Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Tufts University (Medford, MA); Director of University Relations and Director of Middle School Engineering Curriculum at the Museum of Science, Boston, MA; Founder and Director of the K2 Enrichment Program in Newton, MA; and Board Member of the Massachusetts State Science and Engineering Fair. He has taught undergraduate courses ranging from fluid mechanics to gourmet engineering (heat transfer in the kitchen). He has produced over 85 technical journal and conference publications, one patent, three middle school algebra and engineering supplemental books, and one women in engineering outreach guide. He has directed dozens of undergraduate students in research, advised 13 graduate engineering students, and reviewed 18 graduate students as a thesis committee member. His after-school program, K2 Enrichment Program, has been running since 2005, generating science & engineering interest in numerous young children ever year.

Peter graduated from Boston Latin School in 1986. He received his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (senior thesis work related to thermal processing of High Temperature superconductors) and Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (master thesis work numerical modeling of zone-melting recrystallization of silicon wafers) from Tufts University in 1991. His doctoral research focused on numerical modeling of radiant thermal processing of semiconductors. He received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Tufts University in 1995.

On the illustrations of the series:

One of the first things I noticed about this series are the illustrations – they remind me of Manga, which is a particular style of anime and art illustrations. The series has continuity in it’s cover art designs, as it carries forward this style of illustrative voice for each new installment of the series, as well as anchouring the cover art with illustrative plates inside that help the story move forward. Each illustration pertains to a particular part of the narrative, as we first find the ship layout against the first chapter’s heading. From there we can deduce where the two lead characters will be going throughout the course of the mystery aboard ship.

I even appreciated the brief character sketches that are included throughout the context of the story and how illustration played a role in ‘seeing how certain scenes or characters’ were reacting at different moments of the story’s arc as well. It’s a clever way to tell a story for Middle Grade readers and I am sure they would be as charmed as I was to see how it all unfolded.

Review of The Contaminated Case of the Cooking Contest:

Clinton and Mae might be a pair of unlikely friends, but their appreciation for science has united them as members of the Galactic Academy of Science – as they mentioned themselves as the cruise ship started to get underway. Clinton was aboard ship as a courtesy to Mae’s mother who had secured a small quarters big enough for the two friends and Mae’s mother whose is a nurse. There is a curious little twist to this series, wherein the Academy involves time travel and a spunky character named Selectra who pops in and out to give details to those who are chosen to take on ‘a case’ that needs sleuthing! She leaves behind in her wake a curious little gadget that apparently allows for the portal of time to open long enough for the two explorers to shift in time to visit the past and carry out interviews with those who  might be able to point a nod towards who or whom to look out for in the present. A crafty plot by half!

One of the first biographies that are revealed is for Nicolas Appert – I found his story quite interesting as it involves the history of canning foods! There is a goal of mine to pick and select farm fresh vegetables and fruits, whilst using newly obtained skills at canning (there are courses I would love to take in this regard!) to make my own preserves and cupboard of canned goods! There are various styles to try out, from pickling to the simplicity of canning foods to be used in Winter months, but what I liked about the natural process itself, is that you are given more longevity to use the fresh foods that were picked off the local farms. This in of itself is the best blessing as too oft our foods are trucked in from over 3,000 miles away and are less than ideal to consume at that point, as they were stored for too long a period of time.

It was quite a nice surprise to find the full biography of one of the ‘visiting curiosities’ of Clinton and Mae, and then, realise why that person was of interest in the first place! Quite clever and it’s a good footing on expanding a conversation about pioneers in science and medicine – as to be found in Tumblehome’s Remarkable Minds or Magnificent Minds. Good continuity between releases from the publisher!

As Mae and Clinton try to blend in with life on the cruise ship, they start to see how everything is already set in motion from the moment they started to investigate what could be causing the illnesses. Their future friend Selectra gave them a few motivating hints about what could be causing the distress but not the actual reason everyone is coming down with mysterious illnesses. As they take up the search themselves, the story reveals true accounts of how illnesses are spread and what the symptoms will include without sparing details of either. It’s a bit intense on one hand and highly informative on the other – striking a good balance, but if a younger reader isn’t used to an up close and personal reading of medical science intermixed with sleuthing via time travelling, they might struggle with certain parts of the story’s honesty.

I suspect this would make a good primer for children seeking the science or medical fields, because of how illustrative the story unfolds – you even see examples of experiments and learn the steps towards deduction of theory based on researched facts. I still lament the most clever part of the novel is how each living person who made an impact on history is beautifully presented with their own biographical sketch right in line with the section in which they are featured. I also enjoyed gaining an overview of the history of food safety and food contamination; as it’s a hearty lesson even for today’s world, where food bourne illnesses are still something to take stock of as they are just as deadly as they were in the past.

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This book review is courtesy of:

JKS Communications: A Literary Publicity Firm

JKS Communications Reviewer Badge

Regrettably I was delayed in sharing my thoughts on this book as it was held over from late Spring/early Summer due to health reasons and subsequently lightning storms which took away my joy of reading this past Summer. I have appreciated my introduction to this MGLit science series for children and I felt posting this review now during Sci Fi Experience might help other readers seeking stories for children might find this as a happy surprise read!

I am finishing my readings of ‘Remarkable Minds’ & ‘Magnificent Minds’ which will be featured this week, as I want to create a special showcase that highlights why I appreciated reading these wicked awesome books that focus on women of science!

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Posting in conjunction with my contributions on behalf of:

Artwork Credit: Chris Goff on behalf of the Sci Fi Experience hosted by Used with permission.
Artwork Credit: Chris Goff

{SOURCES: Book Cover Art for “The Contaminated Case of the Cooking Contest”, Author Biography, Author Photograph, Book Synopsis, and reviewer badge were provided by JKS Communications and used with permission. Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin. Tweets are embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Comment Box banner made by Jorie in Canva. Artwork Credit: Chris Goff on behalf of the Sci Fi Experience hosted by; used with permission. Blog dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via}

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Sunday, 3 January, 2016 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Book Review (non-blog tour), Children's Literature, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Illustrations for Stories, JKS Communications: Literary Publicity Firm, Juvenile Fiction, Literature for Boys, Middle Grade Novel

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