Books by Diane Swanson

Released: April 1, 2009

Holes in your head? Leaky skin? Recyclable muscles? This collection of curious facts about the body describes a variety of human body parts, focusing on some that appear to do little or nothing—such as pouch muscles, wisdom teeth, tail bone and palmaris and plantaris muscles—and others that behave in surprising ways—such as intestinal bacteria, skin cells and sweat. Colorfully illustrated by Boake with humorously distorted figures, the breezy text invites readers to investigate: Find your own palmaris tendon, feel a dog's canines, practice wiggling your ears. Presented in columns, with accompanying text boxes and "freaky facts," this is well designed for casual readers. A clear and repeated message is that many of these "oddities" are leftovers from ancient, nonhuman ancestors; similarly clear is that scientists are not certain about the origin or function of curious body parts—they make educated guesses. Sure to appeal to odd bods of all ages. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
BUGS UP CLOSE by Diane Swanson
Released: Oct. 1, 2007

"Up Close" is right: Davidson's oversized, sharply focused color photos reveal every joint, palp, wing, eye facet and wrinkle on a succession of common insects, from a seemingly puppy-sized blowfly to an earwig blown up to the dimensions of a sausage. All of his subjects were shot live, in natural settings, often turned toward the camera and in lighting that brings out every detail. Swanson contributes standard but accurate descriptions of insect body parts, life stages, signals, weapons and defenses. Budding bug lovers will stridulate with delight. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 7-9)Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2004

In this relentlessly enthusiastic esteem-builder, Swanson argues that everyone gets a "cool kit of science skills," useful in any walk of life. These skills include the ability to ask questions, collect, and classify, to spot patterns and inconsistencies, to learn from mistakes, to observe, and to wonder—and to back up her claim, she drops dozens of names in anecdotal examples, from "Charley" Darwin and "Tom" Edison to Wayne Gretzky, Amelia Earhart, Louis Armstrong, and Dr. Seuss. In each topical chapter she also throws out general ideas for low-tech projects or games dubbed "Brainplay" exercises. Illustrated throughout with look-alike cartoon figures, and nearly devoid of systematic biographical data, this, like Judith St. George's So You Want to Be an Inventor? (2002), is better suited to motivational reading than educational inquiry. (bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-15)Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 1998

A people's-eye-view of the strange and unusual eating habits found in the animal kingdom; children will be drawn to the disgusting realm of meals made of spit, vomit, cigarettes, skin, and dandruff, just to name of few. Swanson is not subtle; among the chapter headings are "Ooze, Vomit and Dung," "Blood, Skin, and Cast-Off Parts," "Rotting Flesh and Bones." Common and little-known facts burst forth; vampire bats suck blood, the hawfinch dines on cherry pits, puffins eat whale dung, and porcupines munch sweaty wood. The chapters are clearly organized topically, but a dearth of subheadings and a profusion of sidebars makes for intimidating spreads. One creature per spread is singled out for illustration, so many animals may be mentioned—e.g., the lammergeier, the Lapland longspur—but not fully identified. The author's meticulous research is evident here; despite the poor layout and arrangement of text, children will "eat up" the gross-me-out notions and digest good scientific information. (index) (Nonfiction. 8-12) Read full book review >