Bone by Bone by Sara Levine and TS Spookytooth | Book Review
SUMMARY: This charming children's nonfiction book compares skeletons of humans and other animals revealing our shared evolutionary history
What kind of animal would you be if your finger bones grew so long that they reach your feet? What would you look like if your vertebrae didn't end at your rear end? Could you be an animal if you didn't have any bones at all? These are some of the thought-provoking questions posed by author and veterinarian Sara Levine in her new children's book, Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons [Millbrook Press; 2013: Amazon UK; Amazon US]. In this engaging and delightfully-illustrated book, children learn that our physical similarities with other animals are more than skin-deep.
Written for children between the ages of 5 and 9 years old, this 36-page book explores our shared evolutionary history by illustrating how human skeletons are like -- and unlike -- other animal skeletons. At the beginning of the book is a skeletal comparison between a human child and a bear with some of the larger or more obvious bones labeled in both (ribs, toe bones, etc.).
After this introduction, the author poses a number of questions that could initiate discussion in either a classroom setting or between a parent and his child. Children are encouraged to think by posing a question on one page which is answered after turning the page.
Two font types were used on most pages -- questions were usually posed using one font, and answered using a different font -- but this did not detract from the readability of the text. The book includes a glossary and a list of additional books and websites for further reading for those who are interested to pursue more information.
Throughout the book are dozens of colourful and charming paintings that are reasonably accurate. These paintings are so beautiful that they are probably the most obviously tempting reason to purchase this book. My favourite painting was the jellyfish on page 29 and I thought the most amusing picture was the girl with the bat on page 24. I was pleased to see that the illustrator included the vestigial hind leg bones and pelvic girdle in the whale painting (page 15).
Although this book is about vertebrates, I was disappointed that more invertebrates appeared in this book than either birds (none, except for the incomplete bird skull on the cover), amphibians (none) or fish (none). I was also disappointed that direct comparisons were not made between individual bones in, say, horses' feet and human hands nor in bats' wings and human hands.
Overall, this book is a good introduction to comparative skeletal anatomy for young children who are just beginning school or learning to read, who are learning about zoology, evolution or anatomy, and as an addition to a school or personal library. The subject matter also makes this an educational and fun Hallowe'en book.
NOTE: this PDF e-galley was via NetGalley and was read using bluefire reader. This review was originally published on the Guardian.
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Sara Levine is a veterinarian and writer. She also is Assistant Professor of Life Science at Wheelock College in Boston Massachusetts where she and her students conduct research on the flora and fauna of the Muddy River. She resides in Cambridge Massachusetts with her family. This is her first book.
Illustrator TS Spookytooth developed a love of drawing whilst living in a cave on the Cornish coast. For the last century or longer, he has been living in London after taking a wrong turn one day whilst out for a stroll. He can also be found on twitter: @TSSpookytooth.
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