PLOT: 4/5
WRITING: 4.5/5

“”Then he sang,

“Raindrops and roses

and whiskers and kittens

Are all made of chemicals,

though you don’t know them!

Bunches of carbon and hydrogen rings–

 These are a few of my favorite things!”

–        Gargi Bagchi Bhattacharjee. Professor Simplicius and the Mystery of Matter

First impressions

From the first glimpse, the book seems like an interesting read. The author makes the reader aware of the objectives of the book right at the beginning. Professor Simplicius is portrayed as a person who “likes to bust all myths and present the most complex scientific theories in the simplest form”. He loves introducing children to the mysterious and exciting realm of chemistry. 

The cover image is striking and has a fun and adventurous vibe. The little girl, surrounded by icons representing chemistry, is shown having a great time, which is enough to convince the reader that the book is going to be an equally fun-filled read.

The idea behind the book

At the very core of the book lies the aim of introducing children to chemicals. Professor Simplicius and the Mystery of Matter attempts to bust the myths around the general perception of chemicals. It is an attempt to tell us that ‘Look, not all chemicals are bad’, and that chemicals are an ‘integral part of life and Universe’. Telling us that if you look at it, everything is indeed chemical. 

Since, the children of today are the leaders of tomorrow. In a small but effective way, this book wants them to learn about the importance of chemicals in our world, thereby better equipping them to lead the future.

The story as it goes

Lily’s and Sam’s mother decides to take them to the laboratory of Professor Simplicius so that they can fruitfully spend their day. She wants them to learn about the wondrous and intriguing world of chemicals and their role in our everyday lives. Professor Simplicius is a friendly and humble man who welcomes them enthusiastically. 

Once inside the laboratory, the children learn that the Professor has misplaced an important formula of his invention which can only be recovered by decoding a series of cryptic clues. To solve these puzzles, the children will have to not just learn about chemicals and their characteristics but also apply that knowledge. For only then they can help the Professor recover that vital formula.

The character

I like how Professor Simplicius is quite a jolly fellow. I love how friendly and forthcoming he is with children. How easily he manages to hold their attention and how jovial he comes across in his conversations. While introducing himself to the children, this is what he says.

“I am Professor Simplicius! Of course, it is not my real name! But I love to simplify things as much as possible and hence have taken up this name. Also, I am quite forgetful. When I keep things simple, I find them easier to remember.”

Isn’t that humble, polite, and friendly? Indeed, it is.

He is also very attentive towards the children, making great effort to get to know the children, and their life, likes, dislikes. He has an uncanny ability to make them feel immediately at ease, especially by using poetry while talking about his areas of expertise.

The writing

There is a sense of adventure created right at the start. After all, what better way to ignite a child’s curiosity than through a puzzle. The importance of settings and backgrounds have not been neglected. The Professor’s den exudes a vintage academic vibe, with its shelves full of books, and all kinds of academic stuff. The cupboard full of chemicals, with the yellow poster featuring the image of the skull, creates a sense of the forbidden and dangerous. 

All the elements that make for a good children’s read are present in generous doses – adventure, mystery, thrill, curiosity, and danger

What makes it stand out?

A book that introduces children to the world of chemistry is a novelty to me. I have come across many children’s nonfiction books but never a fiction one that talks of chemistry and that too in such friendly and fun tones.

In the end

Professor Simplicius and the Mystery of Matter is a fun-filled and adventurous read that attempts to introduce the children to the wonderful world of chemistry. With interesting characters and an intriguing quest, the book makes for a great read. 

Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of the book using the link below.