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Monday, February 17, 2014

50 Body Questions: A Book That Spills Its Guts. Written by Tanya Lloyd Kyi and illustrated by Ross Kinnaird. Annick Press, 2014. $14.95 ages 10 and up

"Humans remember smells for a long, long time...In one study in Sweden, researchers asked 93 seniors to think of their childhood as they saw pictures, heard sounds, or smelled odors. The strongest memories were all triggered by the sense of smell, and most of those memories were from early childhood - before the test subjects turned 10 years old."

The box of books that comes from Brigette at Annick Press every publishing season is most welcome, and always a distraction. It happened again this past week. I shouldn't have opened it!

At the moment, my task is to be reading more than 20 juvenile/young adult crime books for a Canadian literary award. I love the books that I am reading, but I was distracted! I can't help it. I have become accustomed to learning so much whenever that box arrives. The nonfiction that Annick Press publishes is exemplary, and so informative.

So, the first book I read cover to cover was this one. I have written posts for some of the other books in this brilliant series...50 Questions about poisons, climate, underwear, fire. I wonder how Tanya Lloyd Kyi knows the questions that will most intrigue her readers. Put Guts on the front cover and you've got a great start. The table of contents shows that we will be welcomed to the 'body shop' before moving on to a set of 7 chapters, each dealing with one of the body's systems. She begins with digestion.

My reading just happened to come up when I was having dinner with Val last night. Why not? So, I was telling her that I had abandoned the books I was supposed to be reading for a short time, and did she want to know what I had learned about the small intestine. Being the sweet and ever-supportive friend that she is, she agreed to hear what I had to say. Not in so many words, I told her this:

"For the rest of that pizza, it's on to the small intestine...
If you took your small intestine and stretched it straight up from the ground, it would be the height of a two-story building. It's only called "small" because of its width - about the diameter of a gumball. Resting in coils beneath your ribcage, it sucks the nutrients from your food and sends them to your bloodstream."

C'mon! A two-story building? I can assure you that it is true because I know Tanya does her research. I have read her other books. After that fascinating tidbit,  I was on a roll. I won't go into it here because you should read this book on your own. I will tell you that the questions for this first chapter are: Can you turn pepperoni into poo? Are there ducks in your mouth? Um...excuse you? Is there snot in your stomach? Are there aliens inside you? Can your bowels affect your brain? Do you know the food dance? I mean, who wouldn't be interested in knowing more?!?

As well as answers to those totally en'grossing' questions, BODY BYTES (laid atop a blood spatter) are included to provide further explanatory information, as well as additional intriguing historical bits and each chapter ends with a BODY BUILDERS page. In the first chapter it teaches readers how to make "mucus" and asks questions that help them understand exactly how it works in the body. Fun, fun, fun!

As he has done before, illustrator Ross Kinnaird (who explains that he comes up with ideas while sitting in a bath of warm lemonade with a frozen chicken on his head) provides much appreciated humor and attention grabbing artwork that is sure to have the intended audience always moving forward. Rounding out the text are a glossary, suggestions for further reading, a selected sources list for each chapter, and an index.   

If you are a person who wants to know more about your body, or you have children and students who do, this is a perfect book for you!

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