Alvin Silverstein Robert H. Stavin - Essay

Robert H. Stavin

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[A World in a Drop of Water presents] a coy presentation of oversimplified, erroneous concepts together with superficial presentations of complex material insufficiently explained…. For example, the Silversteins say that algae "drink in the energy of the sunlight and make their own food"; that plant spores "'sleep' until good weather comes again"; that rotifers "can stay asleep this way for years"; that "most hydras give birth to young by a process called budding." Plants do not drink or sleep; they absorb or are inactive—both concepts within the grasp of students at this age level. "Give birth" implies sexual reproduction, while budding is an asexual process. Later, the authors mention conjugation of Paramecium and Spirogyra without developing the genetic reasons for this conjugation; they also state that water is carried out of the flatworm's body without elaborating on the significance of this process in the vital maintenance of water balance in the organism. The concepts of conjugation and water passage are fairly sophisticated for this age level, and, if introduced at all, require more thorough explanation…. [Adults] can make discriminating use of the text for a science-oriented read-aloud, but there are too many inaccuracies and misleading statements to suggest this as a reliable purchase for older independent readers.

Robert H. Stavin, "The Book Review: 'A World in a Drop of Water'," in School Library Journal, an appendix to Library Journal (reprinted from the March, 1969 issue of School Library Journal, published by R. R. Bowker Co./A Xerox Corporation; copyright © 1969), Vol. 15, No. 7, March, 1969, p. 156.