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My family was recently gifted a copy of the picture book Mole and Tell. This book is written by a sister-brother team, Catherine Payne and John Payne II, and beautifully illustrated by Elisa Rocchi. The book follows a 4th grade class as they learn about moles.

My son asked me, are we talking an animal mole, the mole on your face, a spy mole, or something else? It’s hard to believe there are so many meanings to this one word. In this book they’re talking about the scientific mole! 

Ok, I’ll admit I’ve never heard of Mole Day before, and I only vaguely remember learning about moles in high school and college chemistry classes. That’s what interested me about Mole and Tell! I wanted to relearn about moles along with my son as we read the book!

What is Mole Day?

Mole and Tell is all about celebrating a STEAM holiday: International Mole Day! We found out that Mole Day is celebrated on October 23rd from 6:02am to 6:02pm because of Avogadro’s number which is 6.02×1023.

The book explains that Avogadro’s number is how scientists measure a mole. A mole is used as a counting unit of tiny things like atoms, particles, and molecules. It seems like a huge number – and it is! 602 billion trillion! But the things it measures are so small they need a unit of measurement this large to measure them.

About the Book

I was so impressed how Mole and Tell took on big concepts like a mole and Avogadro’s number and made them something a 4th grader could understand. I don’t think I could have explained to my son what a scientific mole is before reading this book. Now after reading the book I could, but I don’t have to because he read the book with me. 😉

In the book the 4th grade class learns why Mole Day is celebrated on October 23rd, and then they plan to celebrate Mole Day with “mole and tell.” It’s show and tell, but all about moles. The students brought in a mole of water and sugar, and researched facts about the mole.

The illustrations of the items the kids brought in for mole and tell day helped us understand the very small scale of the molecules moles measure. 602 billion trillion water molecules is a very small amount in a water bottle! And from the illustration below we were able to understand that there appeared to be more of one mole of sugar than one mole of water because moles measure the quantity of molecules not the size. 

We also learned how to measure a mole of something using the molecular mass on the periodic table. I was excited to break out my math and chemistry skills to explain to my son that one mole of water is 18 grams because hydrogen has a molar mass of 1 and oxygen has a molar mass of 16, so H2O = 1(x2) + 16 = 18. I think reading this book will encourage kids to measure a mole of something in their own home!

Our Review

We now know about Mole Day and what a mole is, we will definitely start our own Mole Day traditions at home this year. I think it will probably include reading this book together, and measuring out a mole of things like water, salt and sugar!

Mole and Tell held our attention from cover to cover. My son and I enjoyed the cute illustrations and clever story, and learned so much. I know this is a book we will enjoy reading over and over together, and I can’t wait to read it with my younger daughters in a few years too.

I recommend this book for kids in 3rd through 6th grade. My son still enjoys pictures for read-aloud with me and I hope that he does for years. You can find Mole and Tell on Amazon using my affiliate link here. Is this a book you’d be interested in reading to your kids? Will you be celebrating Mole Day this year?


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