YOU ARE WEIRD

YOUR BODY’S PECULIAR PARTS AND FUNNY FUNCTIONS

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)

Pub Date: April 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-55453-282-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2009

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THE SECRET SCHOOL

A strong-willed young woman pursues her educational dreams in this Andy Hardy–esque tale of a rural school in peril, circa 1925. When Miss Fletcher’s mother’s illness calls her away from her teaching position at a one-room Colorado schoolhouse, the school board president is transparent in his pleasure at the prospect of closing the school. Fourteen-year-old Ida Bidson is not—closing the school will mean missing the exams that would qualify her to go on to high school, effectively dashing her hopes of becoming a teacher. But all is not lost: the students vote to continue secretly, with Ida as their teacher. While the plot is entirely predictable—the mean school board president finds them out and tries to shut the school down, only to be defeated in a climactic public meeting—the characters are well-developed and appealing. Ida is a diminutive spitfire who steers the family’s broken-down car while her little brother crouches on the floor to operate the gas and the clutch; her best friend Tom is a tinkerer whose home printing press saves the day; and even the most obstructive student in school is rendered sympathetically and with depth. Avi (Prairie School, p. 494, etc.) effectively conveys Ida’s difficulty in balancing her new role as teacher within her already busy life as student, family member (and therefore helper on the family’s sheep farm), and friend, and the details of one-room education are genuinely fascinating. This isn’t heavy stuff, but it gives a glimpse into a past where, although the form of education may have been very different from today’s, the problems facing the schools and students will be all too familiar to modern readers. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-15-216375-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2001

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DORY STORY

Who is next in the ocean food chain? Pallotta has a surprising answer in this picture book glimpse of one curious boy. Danny, fascinated by plankton, takes his dory and rows out into the ocean, where he sees shrimp eating those plankton, fish sand eels eating shrimp, mackerel eating fish sand eels, bluefish chasing mackerel, tuna after bluefish, and killer whales after tuna. When an enormous humpbacked whale arrives on the scene, Danny’s dory tips over and he has to swim for a large rock or become—he worries’someone’s lunch. Surreal acrylic illustrations in vivid blues and red extend the story of a small boy, a small boat, and a vast ocean, in which the laws of the food chain are paramount. That the boy has been bathtub-bound during this entire imaginative foray doesn’t diminish the suspense, and the facts Pallotta presents are solidly researched. A charming fish tale about the one—the boy—that got away. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-88106-075-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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