CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 7 . . . . October 14, 2011
You Just Can’t Help It! Your Guide to the Wild and Wacky World of Human Behavior.
Jeff Szpirglas. Illustrated by Josh Holinaty.
Toronto, ON: Owl Kids, 2011.
64 pp., pbk., hc. & ebook, $12.95 (pbk.), $22.95 (hc.), $10.95 (ebook
ISBN 978-1-926818-13-9 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-926818-13-9 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-926818-15-3 (ebook).
Human behavior-Juvenile literature.
Human biology-Juvenile literature.
Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.
Review by Gail Hamilton.
Can music control your mind? Some stores and malls select background music they hope will help to boost sales. One researcher tested the effect that “fast” music (ninety-four or more beats per minute) and “slow” music (less than seventy-two beats per minute) had on shoppers. When the down-tempo tunes were played, shoppers moved more slowly than when there was no music, and much slower than when the fast songs were played. And average sales increased by more than thirty-eight percent with slow music. Seems the slowed-down music kept shoppers in the store longer, and they ended up buying more.
Energetic, educational and fun, You Just Can’t Help It! explores the quirks of human nature from both a scientific and a cultural perspective. Written in a casual, conversational style, the book is divided into four main chapters, covering such topics as the five senses, emotions, communication and interaction with others. At the end of each chapter is a section entitled “Cool Study” which describes, in cartoon form, a scientific experiment conducted by researchers in various parts of the world.
You Just Can’t Help It! takes readers beyond the mere basics of each of the main topics. Instead, readers will be captivated by the fascinating facts and explanations about what makes humans tick. For example, in the chapter about the five senses, there is information about the effects of colours on taste, emotions and even on athletic competition, paralanguage (voice-tone adjustments in conversations), and humans’ innate ability to sense when they are being watched.
The second chapter focuses primarily on fear and laughter. Here, readers will learn about the composition of tears, the difference between reflex tears and emotional tears, and the physical and psychological benefits of laughter. Some of these include lower blood pressure, clearer air passages, relaxed muscles, improvement in heart function and a boost in the body’s immune system.
Body language, hand gestures, facial expressions and verbal communication are covered in the book’s third chapter. Research has shown that remembering what to say is more difficult when a person stops gesturing and that yawning is more prevalent when people are bored. Other topics discussed in this chapter include disfluency (the use of “filler” words in conversation), texting, and the non-verbal signals that give liars away.
Finally, the last chapter deals with the behavioural differences between girls and boys, birth order, personal space and how people react in large crowds. Table manners, standing in lines, the emotions behind swearing, and behaviour at different types of concerts and sporting events are some of the featured topics.
Adding to the appeal of the kid-friendly text, with its short snippets of information, are the attractive layout and colourful illustrations which include drawings, comics, black and white and colour photographs. A table of contents and an index are provided.
Gail Hamilton is a former teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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