The creators of The Great Big Body Book (2016) pay tribute to the organ “in charge of every single thing our bodies can do.” (Though look what’s telling them that.)
That’s just the first of several simplistic or downright wrong claims in an otherwise perceptive and lighthearted overview that covers the brain’s growth and general structure, its role in perception as well as cognition and communication, emotions, learning and memory (including amnesia and Alzheimer’s), developmental differences, sleep, and dreams—all in nontechnical language. Along with throwing out tantalizing statements like the brain “changes again a lot during the teenage years” without elaboration and that dreaming may help in “getting rid of things we don’t need,” Hoffman misses opportunities to, for instance, mention more than the traditional five senses. She also muddles her own more accurate account of how the nervous system works with a line about how neurons “head back to your brain” with sensory messages, and, in what comes off as a weak attempt to reassure readers anxious about being replaced by robots, abruptly switches tracks to close with dismissive views about the current state of artificial intelligence. Asquith mixes a satisfyingly inclusive crowd of expressive human figures in active poses with bright cartoon diagrams and anatomical views…but she includes a long-debunked “map” of where taste buds are located on the tongue that doesn’t include “umami” in the labeling.
Bright and lively—but saddled with misses both near and wide. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 6-8)