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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Book of Bones: 10 Record-Breaking Animals
by Garbrielle Balkan
Age Range: 6-8
This non-fiction book about bones is fun while also being full of serious information too. Starting with a general introduction about bones it is set out like a guessing game with a question and answer format for each animal.
The first double-page-spread starts with a question. ‘Guess Who Has The Biggest Bone?’ ‘I have the world’s biggest bone. My mandible, the long bone in my lower jaw, is a whopping 6 metres long. Who am I?’ On the opposite page is a detailed white skeleton on a solid black background together with a description of the bone structure. This is followed by a second double-page spread full colour illustration of the animal featuring invisible raised bones that can be felt and text providing the answer and further explanation.
Book of Bones explores the smallest bones, most bones, longest neck bones, heaviest bones, lightest bones, thinnest bones, fastest growing bones, spikiest bones, fewest bones and special bones. Some bones will be instantly recognisable such as the giraffe with the longest neck bone while other species will be less so, such as the smallest bones belonging to an Etruscan Shrew.
While packed with information, this is certainly no dry text book. American author Gabrielle Balkan’s narrative is engaging and witty. Each animal is given a voice as they provide the clues and explanations. By using amusing comparisons to help explain the measurements – the African Bush Elephant tells the reader ‘My humerus is taller than a dining table and can weigh 24 kilograms and the Etruscan shrew says that ‘Not counting my tail my SKELETON is the size of a paperclip and weighs less than a single raisin!’ – this helps to make the information interesting and absorbing.
With eye-catching screen print-inspired artwork by Sam Brewster Book of Bones is perfect for those with inquisitive minds and a love of natural history. It’s a clever and humorous way of introducing and exploring the connection between bones, anatomy and the wider natural world.