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GUT GARDEN by Katie Brosnan


A Journey Into the Wonderful World of Your Microbiome

by Katie Brosnan ; illustrated by Katie Brosnan

Pub Date: April 7th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-908714-72-5
Publisher: Cicada Books

A quick introduction to some of the teeming tenants who call the human body “Home, Sweet Home.”

Squeamish readers may want to go slow: “My name is Demodex and I live on your face!” proclaims one eight-legged micro-critter at the beginning. Led by a preteen lad who poses for internal views, human figures with generically beige skin share space in cartoon illustrations with hordes of mottled, anthropomorphic blobs in diverse bright hues that wave, smile, and scurry busily over magnified interior fleshscapes. Brosnan, rightly pointing out that microbes live “EVERYWHERE” and that there are more of them in our bodies than actual human cells, nods to archaea, fungi, and other types of microscopic life but sticks largely to bacteria as she conducts a tour of the digestive system’s residents. Focusing more on functions than polysyllabic names (though there are plenty of the latter), she mentions pathogens and disease but keeps the tone positive by highlighting the roles common beneficial species play in nutrition, health, and maintaining a balanced intestinal ecosystem. She makes a puzzling claim that viruses cannot “evolve” and offers a woefully incomplete view of manure’s agricultural benefits, in addition to introducing as uncomplicated fact the benefits of probiotics and fecal matter transplants and failing to explore why farmers feel it’s important to feed their animals antibiotics. Still, as a unicellular fellow traveler puts it toward the end, there’s “plenty to chew on” here. This U.K. import’s British spellings and metric measurements remain unaltered.

Effectively makes the case that we are all biological boardinghouses.

(Informational picture book. 7-9)