A neuroscientist presents simple projects and activities designed to demonstrate the brain’s major functions—and a few of its quirks.
Chudler begins with instructions for variously modeling neurons from clay, flavored gelatin (a “Neuro-Snack”), string, pipe cleaners, or rope. Using similarly common materials, the entries in ensuing sections cover the five senses (three to seven projects each), the brain’s physical structure, reflexes, sleep and body rhythms, and finally the ins and outs of long- and short-term memory. Along with materials lists, step-by-step directions (with appropriate safety notes), estimated durations, and explanations of expected results (with suggestions for alternative or follow-up activities), the entries all include descriptions of the brain part or function in play and related technical or historical “Brain Facts.” Some projects, such as watching a sleeping subject to observe REM sleep or recording the circadian rhythms of an animal (in the picture, a fish in a plain fishbowl), may not be particularly workable, but most will have successful outcomes, and many could serve nicely as the bases for school science projects. In accompanying photographs the large cast of young makers and test subjects is predominantly but not exclusively white.
Valuable insights into (arguably) our most important organ.
Based on her work with middle-school students, Long offers lessons on how to stay healthy and out of trouble while awaiting rescue, the same lessons taught to adults in her survival classes.
Her matter-of-fact, no-nonsense tone will play well with young readers, and the clear writing style is appropriate to the content. The engaging guide covers everything from building shelters to avoiding pigs and javelinas. With subjects like kissing bugs, scorpions, snow blindness and “How going to the bathroom can attract bears and mountain lions,” the volume invites browsing as much as studying. The information offered is sometimes obvious: “If you find yourself facing an alligator, get away from it”; sometime humorous: Raccoons will “fight with your dog, steal all your food, then climb up a tree and call you bad names in raccoon language”; and sometimes not comforting: “When alligators attack on land, they usually make one grab at you; if they miss, you are usually safe.” But when survival is at stake, the more information the better, especially when leavened with some wit. An excellent bibliography will lead young readers to a host of fascinating websites, and 150 clipart-style line drawings complement the text.
A splendid volume for young adventurers.
(index not seen)
The devastation of 2017’s Hurricane Harvey is explained, from the storm’s origin to its ongoing aftermath, in this photo-heavy book.
In retelling the story of how a storm got so big it caused 82 deaths and billions of dollars in damage along the Texas coast, Minneapolis-based author Felix details the science of hurricanes for those unfamiliar and unpacks why this and a series of other hurricanes made for one of the most damaging weather years on record. Although it’s packed with info-boxes, a glossary, tips for safety during a hurricane and helping survivors afterward, a snapshot of five other historic hurricanes, and well-curated photos, it misses an opportunity to convey some of the emotion and pain victims endured and continue to feel. Instead, much of the text feels like a summation of news reports, an efficient attempt to answer the whys of Hurricane Harvey, with only a few direct quotations. Readers learn about Virgil Smith, a Dickinson, Texas, teen who rescued others from floodwaters with an air mattress, but the information is secondhand. The book does answer, clearly and concisely, questions a kid might have about a hurricane, such as what happens to animals at the zoo in such an emergency and how a tropical storm forms in the first place. A portion of the book’s proceeds are to be donated to the Texas Library Association’s Disaster Relief Fund.
The photos effectively convey the scope of Harvey’s impact, but while journalistically sound, this informative book doesn’t capture the fear and shock those who lived through the hurricane must have felt.