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Inside Practically Paradise

Giving books – Marshall Cavendish Benchmarks’ The Gross and Goofy Body series

Today we pause to give thanks for all we have. It’s also the starting line for people to GIVE. I’m packing some books for the River Valley Elementary School library in Washta, Iowa (my hometown) and I wanted to be sure to include you in the packing. As you are placing orders for elementary libraries, you might want include this interesting nonfiction series.

The Gross and Goofy Body series which according to publisher Marshall Cavendish Benchmark is "body science at its most interesting…and absurd" was written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Janet Hamlin. © 2010. Each title is discounted to $20.95 and well worth it. 

  • Now Hear This!: The Secrets of Ears and Hearing ISBN 978-0-7614-4161-8
  • Up Your Nose!: The Secrets of Schnozes and Snouts ISBN 978-0-7614-4170-0
  • Blasts of Gas: The Secrets of Breathing, Burping and Passing Gas ISBN 978-0-7614-4155-7
  • Pump It Up!: The Secrets of the Heart and Blood ISBN 978-0-7614-4164-9
  • It’s Spit-acular!: The Secrets of Saliva ISBN 978-0-7614-4163-2
  • The Eyes Have It: The Secrets of Eyes and Seeing ISBN 978-0-7614-4167-0

Noted acknowledgment on verso of title page: "This book was made possible, in part, by a grant from the Society of Children’ Book Writers and Illustrators." (Go SCBWI

There is an amazing amount of information packed into every page. I thought it would be useful to my middle school readers, but they insisted the illustrations were better for elementary schools grades 3-5. I argue that the table of contents contains 23 entries and the text will be of interest to grades 3-8.There are fascinating facts that my middle schoolers should be reading, if they hadn’t rejected the titles as too young for them due to some of the drawings. Too bad for them, but these are wonderful human body titles for elementary schools in the meantime. I can’t wait to hear what the students at River Valley think.

The Eyes Have It: The Serest of Eyes and Seeing. Fascinating information on the haw, or third eyelid that many animals have just below their outer lids. Did you know the haw opens and closes sideways instead of up and down, and that it’s transparent? There is a photograph of a man popping his eyeballs that made me yell out "EWWW!" – a signal for a fascinating title. If you have a middle school library, you might go ahead and try out these titles with your students. The information is unique and very up-to-date as mentioned in the author’s "A Note on Sources." 

Be sure to visit the author’s website You need to read about the author’s A-HA! moment to understand why she writes nonfiction for children.

It’s Spit-acular!: The Secrets of Saliva is a spectacular recreational nonfiction read. I haven’t found any other children’s books on spitting and saliva so this is a must-have. The amount of trivia and facts about saliva included earn this book a spot on my must have list. Want a definition for drool, loogie, slobber, lungie, gob, and sputum? Got it. Want to know why throwing spitballs is illegal? Now I know after reading this title. I’m also glad that I was never married in Greece (my weddings were in China/Taiwan and Denmark), but you’ll have to read the book to see why.

Pump It Up!: The Secrets of the Heart and Blood In addition to the fascinating trivia, this title contains a chart comparing animals heart rates (bpm) and their average life span (years). Wonderful for higher level thinking and using math, logic, and reasoning. This would be a perfect page to display using an Elmo (if only I had one) and asking the class to discuss the results. Want to know why royalty were called blue-bloods? I know after reading this title.

Up Your Nose!: The Secrets of Schnozes and Snouts I’ve mentioned the author’s Note on Sources earlier, but I want to emphasize how interesting Melissa Stewart has made her research and writing process. Her notes show you her original intention – in this case she was going to focus on how humans and other animals smell – but then she realized she had to include the nose’s critical role in breathing and tasting. Her books are collaborative as she collected ideas from kids and even elicited help from her nephew who wanted to understand the difference between boogers and snot. Her books’ research took time as she writes "I had a hard time finding books with specific information about the nose, so it took a long time to compile all the information in this book." She combines information from a variety of sources – books about respiration but also descriptions of the nose from medical journal articles about plastic surgery. AND, she interviews people like doctors and scientists for the most up-to-date information. Be sure to share this page with your students before they begin research projects and writing assignments. Students need to understand that even individual titles in a series are separate works, not just fill-in-the blank templates. This series illustrates this beautifully with the variety of information presented. The one area I wish this book had discussed was broken noses.

Now Hear This!: The Secrets of Ears and Hearing Long-time readers know I have a hearing problem and have had 7 ear surgeries so any titles on ears are interesting to me. Until you have been shut-off from clear sounds around you, you cannot appreciate the desperation I have felt at times when someone was trying to talk to me and I couldn’t distinguish exactly what they were saying. I was hoping to read about the problems that ears can have and medical advances helping people to hear, but that’s not what this title is about. 

Instead it gives many details on the different parts of the ear and their functions. Readers will understand far more about how ears work in hearing and in balance. I’ll have to use some of the web links at the back to understand why my ears are constantly filled with fluid and why my eardrum ruptures. Still, this is a good starting point for healthy ear understanding.

Blasts of Gas: The Secrets of Breathing, Burping and Passing Gas Come on, admit it. The title of this book is so intriguing that you’ve been waiting to hear about gas. Did you know that you inhale about 1.6 gallons of air a minute (2,300 gallons per day)? Did you know that your lungs work hardest in the late afternoon between 4 and 5 p.m.? Do you know how cows’ burping contributes to global warming? Which foods make you fart the most? Answers to all these questions are inside. I especially appreciate the last one. Now I know which foods to avoid when I have an event coming up and really don’t want to pass smelly gas.No cauliflower, eggs, and meat if I don’t want the smelly stuff. 

I now know that "Most kids pass wind about fourteen times a day and give off enough gas to fill a 1-liter soda bottle." So releasing gas is normal, readers. Just be sure to use the phrase "pass gas" around me. I ardently dislike that f- word and refused to let my children say it around me, I even shuddered as I typed it. We had mom-talk and dad-talk in our house and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’ll help you research the facts on it, but I can still choose how I call it. 

Want to know what else is in that box? You’ll have to read the next blog post.