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Starring…the human body!

wicks_human body theaterA friendly human skeleton hosts Maris Wicks’s “nonfiction revue” Human Body Theater (First Second Books, October 2015), which covers just about everything concerning the human body. From atoms and cells to organs and systems, readers witness how the body works, in all its glory — and how viruses, bacteria, and fungi sometimes work against it.

Major “acts” include the skeletal system, the respiratory system, the immune system, and the cardiovascular system; details pop up in amusing scenarios throughout the revue as the skeleton cedes the stage to personified body parts and organisms. At revue’s end, the skeleton dresses in the various systems until it becomes a “fully formed human girl…all flesh and blood and bones and guts.”

It’s a lot to take in, particularly if a reader is not too familiar with the intricacies of the human body. Happily, the skeleton proves to be a good emcee. The tone throughout is informative and humorous, with a hint of gross-out realism. Information is rolled out at a nice pace, allowing room for careful exploration of each individual system. Wicks’s charming illustrations range from goofy to scientifically precise (sometimes at the same time). The inclusion of a glossary and a bibliography provides a chance for further exploration.

Overall, Human Body Theater is a good refresher for those who have forgotten about the nuances of the human body and an engaging introduction for developing human beings (also known as children and adolescents). If you’ve ever wanted to learn how food turns to poo as a peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich narrates the process, this is the book for you.

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