________________ CM . . . . Volume V Number 18 . . . . May 7, 1999

cover Stephen Biesty's Incredible Body: Meet the Teams That Make the Body Work!

Richard Platt. Illustrated by Stephen Biesty.
Markham, ON: Scholastic Canada Ltd., 1998.
32 pp., cloth, $22.99.
ISBN 0-590-12467-6.

Subject Headings:
Human physiology-Juvenile literature.
Body, Human-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.
Review by Gail Hamilton.

*** /4


Steve's ears get bigger by about 0.08 in (2 mm) in every nine years, which is 1/4 inch (6.35 mm) every 30 years. If Methuselah really had lived to be 969 years old (as the Bible reports), his ears would have been bigger than his head, and he could have used his earlobes as a hat!
inside picture An in-depth exploration of the human body is undertaken by two fictional tour guides-- the extraordinary exploration squad-- who both inform and entertain readers with important and interesting facts as they investigate the body's labyrinth of veins, arteries and organs. The body in question is that of Stephen Biesty, himself, hence the references to "Steve's skin", "Steve's nose", etc. Twelve chapters document the exploration squad's adventure and cover such topics as the brain, skin and muscles, and the skeleton. In order to help readers in understanding how the body works, Platt uses the analogy of a gigantic warehouse or factory staffed by uniformed teams of workers-- the home team, the muscle team, the nerve team, the blood team, the hormone team and the immune team. These teams, whose uniforms are rendered in different colours to distinguish them from one another, appear throughout the book. Their purpose is to explain how they keep the body functioning properly and what happens if they don't do their jobs. With the exception of the chapter on the mouth and "gut", which has a large fold-out section, a double-page spread is devoted to each body system. The differences between male and female organs and systems are described in small information boxes.

      Platt delivers on his promise to give readers a tour of the human body, for his text reads like a tour guide commentary, infused with humour and trivia. There is abundant information, suitable for research projects, but, fair warning-- far too much information to digest at one sitting. Text is quite small and is written, in most cases, in fairly short sentences in kid-friendly language (though in a scientific subject like this one, some difficult vocabulary is to be expected). An index is also provided.

      Biesty's trademark illustrations, rendered, wherever possible, in the actual colours of the body parts they depict, show an incredible amount of intricate detail. On their own, they exemplify "busy-ness" (too much for some readers); combined with the text, they border on the overwhelming. Fans of Biesty's artistic style will, no doubt, welcome this book. Most readers, however, will feel visually bombarded.

Recommended with Reservations.

Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian at Bird's Hill School in East St. Paul, Manitoba.

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

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364