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Saturday, March 12, 2011

You Just Can't Help It! Written by Jeff Szpirglas. Owlkids Books, 2011. $12.95 ages 8 and up

"However, if you happen
to hit the Serengeti plains
of Africa and hear a spotted
hyena "laugh", it's not because
some klutzy giraffe slipped
on a banana peel. That
distinctive high-pitched sound
means a hyena is seriously '
stressed out. It's likely being
chased or attacked -"

This is just the kind of book that kids love to read...quick, punchy information about themselves. This is a guide to 'the wild and wacky world of behavior' and we all know that behavior can indeed be both of those things.

Jeff Szpirglas is a teacher and a writer, a fan of Desmond Morris and a collector of information about human behavior. He has always loved science and finds himself endlessly intrigued by weird things...horror films, bugs, snakes. Preparation to write this book involved hours of research:

"It meant a few years of scouring the Internet, afternoons spent thumbing through thick academic journals in dusty old libraries, and tracking down experts from around the globe by phone and email."

There are four chapters, dealing with the senses, emotions, communication and interaction. Each provides an introduction and then a series of text boxes which talk about the chapter's subject. There are bits of trivia, funny questions, suggestions for activities to try, and a 'cool study' which documents a question asked and answered in a published experiment. The format is question, observation, results and summary. 
Filled with fun and food for thought, this is a book that will be shared friend to friend throughout the reading. I can hear it: "hey, did you know that holding a smile for a long time probably means it's fake?" Or "laughing isn't something you learn from your parents. It's something humans do automatically. And laughter works best when it's shared."

Oh, yeah! They're reading and they are learning a lot about human behavior and how we 'just can't help it!'

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