Thousands of different types of microbes inhabit, in unimagined profusion, many parts of the human body. It’s an ecosystem worth exploring.
Veteran science writer Hirsch takes on the job, providing detailed and accurate information on the history of microbial science and the development of antibiotics, the variety of microbes, the effects of antibiotic overuse, and the evolving science of the role of the human microbiome in health and disease. Although the topic is complex, this overview is presented clearly and without oversimplification. The design, however, gets in the book’s way. As in so many nonfiction works for young audiences, a plethora of text boxes interrupts the flow of the narrative, often to annoying effect. Although DNA is first mentioned on Page 17, it is not described and fully explained (in a text box) for another 40. Only in the glossary and index is it named as deoxyribonucleic acid instead of “DNA.” There are many outstanding stock color photographs of bacteria but no useful explanation that these were taken though a microscope of a certain power. Although many complex words are introduced (and helpfully defined in both the text and a lengthy glossary), unfortunately, no guide to pronunciation is included. Detailed backmatter rounds out the book.
This important topic is worthy of attention, and in spite of some design flaws, this will serve middle and high school readers well. (Nonfiction. 11-18)