Book Review: 11 Experiments That Failed

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a 'go science kids' book review of 11 Experiments That Failed, by Jenny Offill and Nancy Carpenter

Product Reviewed: 11 Experiments That Failed, by Jenny Offill & Nancy Carpenter

Age Range: 5-8 year olds

Star Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

The Good: A humorous story that introduces kids to the scientific method in a fun and whimsical way.

The Bad: Slightly US-centric. May encourage kids to try a few experiments you wished they wouldn’t!

The Verdict: Would make a lovely gift for 5-7 year old girls.

Learning about the scientific process via a series of increasingly outrageous experiments (that fail)

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11 Experiments That Failed

This delightful story book features a young female protagonist who, armed with safety goggles, a lab coat, and a curious mind, proceeds through a series of 11 increasingly outrageous science experiments, each of which fail spectacularly.

The illustrations and layout are just delightful. They are quirky, with a mixed media feel, and add as much to the storyline as the words.

Each experiment follows the scientific method, listing the question, hypothesis, materials list, step-by-step instructions, and results. Some of the experiments you could try at home (if you dare). Others are perhaps best left to the imagination.

Whilst each experiment fails to confirm the original hypothesis, the results are still documented factually. This method helps kids to understand that, in science, we can learn from all experiments, even those that don’t work out how we’d planned.

As a mother of two science-loving young girls, I love that this book features a young girl who clearly loves dressing up like a scientist, doing science experiments and using scientific materials (beakers, test tubes, pipettes, etc). Whilst her mother may be bewildered by it all, this young girl clearly thinks that science is awesome, leaping from experiment to (failed) experiment with enthusiasm. She’s infectious!

Question, hypothesis, ingredients, method, results - learning the scentific process via this charming story book 11 Experiments That Failed


Pros and Cons


  • This book does a great job of making science look cool.
  • More importantly, it does a great job of making science look cool for girls.
  • It encourages girls to invent their own experiments, using items from around the house.
  • It teaches kids how to structure an experiment using the scientific method, and helps to familiarise them scientific words (such as hypothesis), and scientific equipment (lab coats, safety googles, beakers, pipettes, etc).
  • It opens up discussions about how experiments can fail, and may help perfectionist kids to understand that an experiment that doesn’t confirm the original hypothesis can still provide useful results.
  • Humorous for kids and adults alike.

Review of science picture book 11 experiments that failed that introduces kids to the scientific process



  • As Australians, we found some of the words to be US-centric. In Australia, we say tomato sauce instead of ketchup, for example. And I’d never heard of bologna before (which I think is similar to what we call it devon).
  • Young kids may take the story more literally than it’s intended, so the humour may need some explaining.


What does my daughter think?

My almost 6 year old daughter Jewel views this book a bit like slapstick comedy. The experiments that the protagonist undertakes are so outlandish and exaggerated that Jewel finds it hilarious, but I don’t think she could actually tell you why.

Jewel said that she thought she was a lot smarter than the girl, because she already knew these experiments wouldn’t work! I asked Jewel how she knew, if she hadn’t tried them? At which point, with a twinkle in her eye, Jewel suggested attempting to grow mould in one of her sister’s old shoes. Then we started brainstorming good mould growing locations around our house: apparently under the stairs looks promising….


Other Key Features {that might be handy to know}

  • Published by Schwartz & Wade books (Random House), 2011.
  • We have the hardcover version, which measures 29cm x 24.5cm x 1cm, with dust jacket.
  • The end papers are quite lovely too.

Eleven Experiments That Failed end papers


Where to Buy

We bought our copy of 11 Experiments That Failed online from The Book Depository. You can also find it on (for the US) and (for the UK). It might also (hopefully) be on-shelf at your local book-store. I understand it’s been in high demand, so fingers crossed it’s in stock for you!


Check out our other book reviews:

Review of the book 11 Experiments That Failed, which introduces the scientific method and encourages girls to love science


Disclaimer: I wasn’t paid for this review. All opinions are my (or my kids’) own. This post does, at my own discretion, contain affiliate links. An affiliate link means I may earn referral / advertising fees if you make a purchase through my link, without any extra cost to you. Referral / advertising fees from various sources help keep this little project afloat. Thank you for your support and understanding, I really appreciate it.

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  1. Books4Learning

    Thanks for introducing me to this book. I plan to check it out!


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