October 28, 2009


Open Me Up     Everything You Need to Know About the Human Body

by Laura Buller, Julie Ferris, Niki Foreman, Fran Jones, Susan Kennedy, Ashwin Khurana, and Richard Walker; Editorial consultant Richard Walker

DK Publishing, 2009

 ISBN #978-0-7566-5532-7

Nonfiction, grades 4 and up

256 pages

This hip, somewhat irreverent book of everything about the body has extensive information presented in a variety of styles and ways that are intended to attract kids to the facts in a nontraditional manner. Examples include a graphic novel style explanation of Fleming’s discovery of penicillin, anatomical illustrations explaining arm muscle mechanics, cartoon style information about hair, and a digestive system illustration made of balloons, all showing one aspect of the way the human body functions. The entire set of systems is presented in one way or another and topics related to the body help round out each section. Back matter includes the body systems with an accompanying illustration and an index.

The cover shows a 3-D die cut of a human body that reveals the inner organs and is sure to attract attention. This book should appeal to students reluctant to learn science in more traditional ways as well as kids who are interested in details, trivia, and other odd facts.


Select one of the body systems from the book. Create their own graphic style page based on one similar to what is presented in the book to illustrate, explain, and display information about the organs making up that system.

National Science Standard: Structure and function in living systems


Book provided by DK Publishing

The WEE Book of PEE

October 21, 2009


The Wee Book of Pee

The Amazingly Gross Human Body Series

By Kelly Regan Barnhill

Capstone, 2010 (Edge Books)

ISBN #1-4296-3357-3

Reading level grades 3-4   

Interest level grades 3-9

“Pee isn’t just some stinky yellow stuff people flush down the toilet. The body’s cells are constantly making waste products while they work. Something has to clean out all the gunk. Luckily, we have an amazing system of organs that keep our bodies clean and healthy. Let’s take a closer look at pee and how it’s made.

From needing to “go” on a car trip to peeing through history, this book sets the scene for the job the urinary system and its organs do in relationship to proper body functioning as an organism. Going about the job of cleaning the blood isn’t necessarily the polite topic of conversation in most places, but the importance of the job the urinary system does certainly is, and the book not only gives the outright facts but makes it fun, fascinating, and of course, gross!

New vocabulary is highlighted in blue and defined in a little sidebar at the bottom of the page. Details about how the organs work and their place in the urinary system make up a big part of the text areas. Photos and labeled diagrams clarify the text, and difficult ideas, such as pH, are explained clearly. The major illnesses related to the urinary system are mentioned and odd, quirky facts will help draw in the reader.

The title certainly drew me in. As a former science teacher, I can’t help but love topics (and books) like this. I wish this sort of book had been readily available when I was a child. I’m drawn to the way the systems in the body are so unbelievably intertwined and books like this can appeal to budding scientists or readers who want to know something gross equally well.

On a personal note, my dad had Type I diabetes and went into kidney failure when his kidney function dropped to 12% capacity. He started dialysis and I came to learn much about the disease, system, and nutrition involved with the shutdown of this important system of organs. While much progress has been made in controlling blood sugar and the damage it causes in the kidneys, the rise of Type II diabetes and resulting kidney failure continues to affect many people today.  This post is in memory of my dad, George Smith.

Activity 1

Review the organs of the urinary system. Draw the urinary system and label the major organs. Write a paragraph that follows the sequence of the wastes filtered from the blood through the kidneys to the urethra.

This print out of the urinary system can be used for the younger students.

Here’s a short movie about the urinary system.

This kid friendly site has information, games, and a coloring page.

Activity 2 For the older students

Look up dialysis and find out how it works to mechanically clean the body’s wastes.

This site has helpful information.

This site provides links to more kidney information.

National Science Standard: organization in living systems

This book is one in a series of six books about the human body and functions titled The Amazingly Gross Human Body.

Book received from Capstone Press.

Clot & Scab

September 9, 2009


Clot & Scab   

Gross Stuff About Your Scrapes, Bumps, and Bruises

By Kristi Lew

Illustrated by Michael Slack

Millbrook Press, 2010

NF Grades 3-5

Gross Body Science Series

ISBN #978-0-8225-8965-5


Have you ever fallen off your bike and dragged some poor body part along the pavement? YOW! Not only does it hurt like crazy, it looks nasty too. But don’t worry. While you made hamburger out of your knee or elbow, your body got busy repairing the damage.


The kid-friendly cover, the mix of art and photos, and the chatty, casual tone of this book belie the fact-filled information about blood and its role in the body in Clot & Scab. After an introduction with a scraping wound, blood facts fill the pages in short, readable sections with headers and it is interspersed with additional facts and humorous art which moves the information forward to related blood and body information in a natural order. Details of the information are supported by the photos and colored text lines highlight the fun parts.

From gross-out facts about vampire bats and leeches to the basics of blood cells and blood types, this book covers all things blood related and the explains the details of a complex subject in a way in which children this age will understand and enjoy. The complicated exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide by the blood in the capillaries of the alveoli was defined simply as a “trade,” a good way to reach readers of this age. The humorous, slightly snarky tone of the text is entertaining enough to hold the readers’ interest without becoming sarcastic, yet allows the reader to be in on the joke with the silly comments. Some of the pictures were disgustingly detailed and will be certain to provide lots of passing around of the book.

Serious information presented in a humorous way is done well in this book. The text held my interest to the end, so older kids might enjoy the facts, too. A glossary, bibliography, suggestion for further reading, and an index complete this 46 page book, one of five in the Gross Body Science series.

Activity 1

Trace the path of blood flow from veins through the heart and back out to the arteries. This site will help you determine the order.

Check out your knowledge of blood flow through the heart with this test.

Activity 2 (for the older readers)

Learn more about blood types here and then play a blood typing game. This link worked part of the time for me. If you can get it working, it’s a great game.

Further research activity

Look up some of the various blood disorders to learn more about blood. This site provides a starting point.

National Science Standard: characteristics of organisms, structure and function in living systems

Take a look at Amanda’s review at A Patchwork of Books.


August 19, 2009

Ouch! How Your Body Makes It Through A Very Bad Day

By Richard Walker

Art by NIKID Design, LLD

DK Children’s, 2007

Paperback, 2009

ISBN-10: 0756658136

NF ages 8-12


Right now there are thousands of things happening inside your body without you knowing anything about them. Did you know, for example, that as you read these words, your body’s defense forces are busy battling marauding germs and bugs? Or are waiting on standby ready to tackle everyday hazards such as cuts, stings, burns, choking, or overheating? All to keep you alive and healthy. It’s too bad, then, that you can’t see these and many other amazing events in action. Well, now you can!

From a sneeze and bathroom break in the morning to vomiting and then sleep at bedtime, this book takes the reader on a journey inside the body as it reacts to and battles daily problems that threaten its health. It uses a technology based Nanocam to enter a body and follow the physiological actions that protect us and make us work. Fascinating events like fear response and huge images of pathogen mix with the familiar ones, such as asthma and bee stings, and includes some typical reflex responses as well.

Large, labeled illustrations dominate one side of the spread and facts with smaller pictures show details about the response discussed. The information is broken into short sidebar-like sections, making the complex information provided more reader-friendly with a good dose of fun gross-out facts along the way. The information is fascinating and the images are compelling.

 While the publisher identifies the book for ages 8-12, I think older readers might like the book as well. With the life science emphasis in middle school, older students may enjoy the technical aspects of the book, although the younger child’s image on the cover may put off older readers. This is a fascinating book and one for every budding young scientist.

Activity 1

Research another body function not covered in this book. Use the Nanocam idea to create their own text and images about the body function they chose. Some possibilities: solid waste elimination, poison ivy, automatic eye responses, fire ant stings, oxygen exchange in the lungs, athlete’s foot

National Science Standards: organisms in environments; structure and function in living systems.


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