Monday, December 6, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Bones: Skeletons and How They Work

On a recent visit to the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia I stood before a display of skeletons lined up behind a glass case and marveled at the diversity of the human frame. At first glance a skeleton is a skeleton, yet when examined closely, each one is unique.

Steve Jenkins' new book Bones conveys this sense of wonder in spades. The human skeleton is compared to various animals, and what the illustrations so remarkably show is how similar they are. The human arm, a mole's, a whale's, and a bat's  share the same basic set of bones. Another page features a giraffe and human skeleton from the neck up. Although the giraffe's neck is as tall as a man, both have the same number of neck bones (seven). After exploring the size and shape of groups of bones, Jenkins turns his attention to movement, showing how an animal's skeleton is adapted to its needs. Three gatefolds are included. The first reveals a python's skeleton with almost 200 pairs of ribs; the second the skulls of a dozen animals (all drawn to size), and the third a full human skeleton. The book concludes with a fascinating section featuring more facts about bones.

Although the text contains difficult words (vertebrate, femur, symmetrical), the sentences are concrete and clearly written. Level three readers should be able to tackle it (with a little support). It would also be a great choice for guided reading. Jenkins' extraordinary cut-paper collages reinforce the text and greatly add to a reader's understanding.
Bones: Skeletons and How They Work
by Steve Jenkins
Scholastic, 48 pages
Published; August 2010

Today's host for Nonfiction Monday is Scrub-a-Dub-Tub.

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