What if you couldn’t remember a face—even your own? Imagine not being able to forget anything from your past. What if you had Barbie-doll hair, so stiff you couldn’t possibly comb it?
Birmingham takes readers through an amazing variety of offbeat conditions, most of them inherited and some of them extremely rare. While this brief effort packs in ample information, the attractive format, casual with brightly colored pages and cartoonlike illustrations on each spread, combines with the high-interest topic to make it appear readily approachable. However, the vocabulary level and the explanations of the causes for some of the conditions are relatively complex. Some of the conditions—or “quirks” according to the subtitle—include developmental topographical disorientation, which causes sufferers to fail to recognize familiar surroundings, making it possible to get lost in one’s own home; double-jointedness; sleepwalking; color blindness; heightened ability to taste; and synesthesia, a condition that associates numbers, letters, words or music with colors. Many of the topics include a “What’s it like?” section: a brief, informative interview with a person who has that condition. Additional facts are tucked into boxes throughout, like the stages of sleep, types of joints in the human body and the anatomy of a hair follicle.
An entertaining presentation of a fascinating topic that’s more substantive and challenging than it looks. (Nonfiction. 10-14)