________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 6. . . .November 7, 2008


Blood, Bones and Body Bits. (Horrible Science).

Nick Arnold. Illustrated by Tony De Saulles.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2008.
171 pp., pbk., $6.99.
ISBN 978-0-545-99324-1.

Subject Headings:
Human anatomy-Miscellanea-Juvenile literature.
Human physiology-Miscellanea-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Barbara McMillan.

*** /4


Nasty Nature. (Horrible Science).

Nick Arnold. Illustrated by Tony De Saulles.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2008.
173 pp., pbk., $6.99.
ISBN 978-0-545-99399-9.

Subject Heading:
Animals-Miscellanea-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Barbara McMillan.

*** /4



Your sense of smell is sensationally sensitive. It's actually 10,000 times more sensitive than taste! That's OK when there's something nice to be sniffed but there are some really revolting odors around. And did you know your nose can sniff one molecule of the stinky juice squirted by a skunk even when it's mixed with 30 billion molecules of fresh air?! Yuck! (From Blood, Bones and Body Bits.) A toad or frog uses its eyeballs to help it swallow a huge juicy fly. It blinks as it swallows, pushing the eyeballs backwards into its head forcing the fly down its throat. This makes swallowing easier, even if it looks disgusting. Gulp! (From Nasty Nature.)


Nick Arnold's "Horrible Science" series is certain to appeal to boys and girls with a fascination for trivia, particularly scientific trivia that is presented in weird and outlandish ways. Similar to the excerpts above, Blood, Bones and Body Bits and Nasty Nature are filled with pieces of information that make the human body and Earth's animal inhabitants and, dare I suggest, science, more fascinating than most preteens likely imagine.

     Arnold doesn't merely list bits of factual information in the most revolting way he can imagine, though there is an abundance of language that will appeal to adolescents' fondness for gross and disgusting vocabulary. He contextualizes much of the information he presents. In some sections, questions are posed, case studies are presented, and the reader is asked to either predict the outcome or answer a series of questions based on the information provided. In other sections, the reader is presented with either events or stories from the history of science that introduce and begin to develop an understanding of concepts like immunity, vaccination, animal communication, enzymes, classification, gastric juices and digestion. Arnold also makes use of tests and quizzes, some of which the student readers are to ask their teachers, fact files, warnings, manuals, guides, diagrams, suggestions for experiments, and text boxes with the heading "Bet you never knew!" Each book concludes with a seven page quiz "To find out if you're a Nasty Nature or Blood, Bones and Body Bits expert" plus a thorough "horrible index."

      The "Horrible Science" books are printed on newsprint, and the only colour is found on the high gloss, made-to-look-gory covers. Each page between the covers is illustrated with the wonderful and sometimes amusing, but not at all gruesome, cartoon-like drawings and designs of Tony de Saulles. I especially enjoyed the drawings of animals, including the humans, in Nasty Nature and the preteen Frankenstein that appears in eight of the 13 sections of Blood, Bones and Body Bits.

      I recommend Nasty Nature and Blood, Bones, and Body Bits because they are the kind of book that just might attract girls and boys who seldom read for pleasure or seldom select a book with a science focus. Like the "Mysterious You" series by Diane Swanson (Kids Can Press) and Sylvia Branzei's "Grossology" books (Price Stern Sloan), they take advantage of adolescents' fascination with scavengers, top carnivores, venomous snakes and spiders, blood, deadly diseases, hiccups and other bodily functions. In saying this, be aware that I am overlooking the obnoxious comments made about teachers and the cafeteria cooks who prepare school lunches. Arnold, a prolific and popular author in Britain, must not have had positive experiences with either.


Barbara McMillan is a teacher educator and professor of science education in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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