Murphy, the author of Why Is Snot Green? (2009), tackles another high-interest subject in this entertaining look at fears and phobias.
In brief chapters, abundantly illustrated with amusing cartoons and photographs, the author explores common fears shared by people from all walks of life: wild animals, snakes and insects, natural disasters, dentists and doctors, darkness, death, drowning, heights, ghosts, monsters in closets and more. He explains the differences between innate and learned fears and between fears and phobias, also discussing their biological and psychological dimensions. After describing a particular fear, he follows with a discussion of how grounded in reality that fear is and explains the likelihood of that fear becoming a reality. "The odds of dying in a sandstorm or snowstorm are, for most people, very low… [They] are dangerous, but fairly predictable." As in his other books, Murphy includes enough gross details to keep readers engaged (some foodborne microorganisms "make us vomit and poo explosively") but always stays centered on science ("E. coli… is usually a harmless bacterium").Reluctant readers, especially, will find Murphy's chatty, lighthearted approach appealing, enjoyable and informative. (source notes, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)