Our little acorns have an intense interest in all things gross, gooey and lavatorial, so were thoroughly impressed by the books we had for review today.
Part of the ‘You wouldn’t want to live without…’ series from Book House, we have been reading ‘You wouldn’t want to live without Snot!’, ‘…Bacteria’, ‘…Poo’ and ‘…Toilets’.
The series includes other less icky subjects including money, electricity, clocks and gravity, but we opted for the grossest ones available because they fit in nicely with our current investigations into microbes. The books combine good factual knowledge with entertaining images, and are engaging for both confident readers and pre-readers who will enjoy the pictures. My boys enjoy being read non-fiction at bedtime just as much as stories, so we are always happy to find STEM books that we can add to the bedtime book list as well as for reference.
The first book we looked at was ‘You wouldn’t want to live without snot!’ written by Alex Woolf and Illustrated by David Antram. We might see snot as just disgusting inconvenience that accompanies colds and hay fever, or in the case of my kids a tasty snack, but this book helps to reveal a fascinating range of reasons why we just couldn’t live without it. For example, did you know that without it we would find it difficult to digest our food, and that without mucous excreted from their skins frogs would be unable to breathe properly?
The second book was ‘You wouldn’t want to live without bacteria’ by Roger Canavan and illustrated by Mark Bergin. For years we have been taught that bacteria are the enemy, but more recently the tide of knowledge has turned and scientists are starting to recognise that many types of bacteria are vital for life. This book helps to explain to kids how some bacteria can make you ill and others are incredibly useful to us, for example allowing us to produce bread, cheese and even chocolate!
The final two books are the ones the kids loved best: ‘You wouldn’t want to live without Poo’ written by Alex Woolf and illustrated by David Antram, and ‘You wouldn’t want to live without toilets’ written by Fiona Macdonald and also illustrated by David Antram. The subject matter was very much to their liking as they squealed with laughter and showed each other their favourite bits. As well as being excellent, informative books, these would be invaluable to anyone who has a reluctant reader because the kids were desperate to know what the funny pictures were about. Toby (who is 5)
frequently called on Ollie (7) to read out captions and text to him when he found a particularly unsavoury and therefore hilarious picture. The books were a real eye opener, even for me. For example I did not know that, at £44,000 per kilo, panda poo tea is the most expensive tea in the world. I think I’ll stick to Yorkshire Gold! I was also not aware that wombat poo is cubic, I thought that was just one of those random fake facts like ‘dogs can’t look up’.
For those following the national curriculum, the whole series supports the curriculums of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but even if you don’t follow a curriculum at all there is guaranteed to be something in the range that will inform and delight your children. I was impressed that the information is up to date too, for example in the ‘what can we learn from ancient poo’ section, we read that the idea that Neanderthals ate only meat isn’t true, and that they also ate berries, nuts and fruit, which is something scientists only published in around 2014.
I have worked in public and college libraries and I have always agreed with the idea that anyone who doesn’t like reading just hasn’t found the right book yet. This lovely range of books will certainly help children to find the right book for them. All the books we looked at were great, but Ollie’s favourite was Toilets and Toby’s was Poo, to the point they were squabbling over which to read at bedtime, so we ended up with a few pages of each. They have each taken their respective favourite to bed with them, so I’m going to have to go patrolling soon to make sure there are no torches and reading under blankets going on. I’m sure everyone visiting our house over the next few days is going to learn more about the kids favourite subjects than they ever knew they wanted to know.
Notes: The publishers kindly sent us copies of the books we asked for to review, all images and opinions are my own, and that of my cheeky poo, snot and toilets obsessed small boys.