Sneeze!
by Alexandra Siy and Dennis Kunkel

Price at time of review: $16.95
40 pp.
Charlesbridge Publishing
Watertown, MA
2007
ISBN: 9781570916533


Grade Level: 2-5

Reviewed by Arlyn Christopherson
Retired teacher k-8; now teaching teachers on-line


Do you ever sneeze in the morning sunshine? Then you'll enjoy this lively, charming, beautifully-designed and illustrated book, which gives us "nine sneezes for nine reasons." Written at a middle-school level, it will be of interest to a wide range of ages, from third-graders who will be able to read the titles, to adults, who all will learn something new.

The simple but surprisingly sophisticated scientific explanations of why (and how) people sneeze are supported by black-and-white photographs of children caught in mid-sneeze and wonderful, full-page, colorized electron microphotographs displayed on a striking black background. Elements of each micrograph are labeled, and the magnifications are indicated, ranging from an image of a grain of pepper (x405) to a flu virus (x222,200). There is even the very first photograph of a (simulated) sneeze taken by Thomas Edison in 1888. This book was selected as an NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Book for 2008.

The first half of the book is about the many stimuli that induce sneezing, and this is followed by an explanation of how the nerves and muscles work to produce the explosive outburst of a sneeze. There is also a section on fascinating sneeze lore, reminding us to cover our noses and mouths when sneezing—and to wash our hands afterward. Finally, there is a page explaining how the micrographs are produced, a list of resources, and an excellent glossary.

Teachers will find this book to be a natural kick-off to a health unit or useful as an introduction to a study of neurons. Elementary teachers will want to read part of it to students, giving the youngsters plenty of time to ask questions. Students will want to revisit Sneeze! again and again, to enjoy pictures of children like themselves (oh-oh a pillow fight!). It may stimulate an interest in microphotography or interest students in how electrical impulses travel along nerves. Among the very best of science books for kids, this book is nothing to sneeze at!



Review posted on 9/14/2007


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