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Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons Library Binding – August 1, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

K-Gr 2–Levine takes a unique approach to comparative anatomy. The purpose of the book is to illustrate differences between human and animal bone structures. Each page presents a question, e.g., “What kind of animal would you be if your finger bones grew so long that they reached your feet?” The answer is revealed with the turn of the page (“A bat!”). The bright, stylized, color illustrations match each question, portraying cartoon children with distorted anatomy, such as a girl with a neck like a giraffe's, or a snake with a human head. Some may find the gloppy piles of cartoon children with no bones unappetizing, while others may find the peculiar images amusing. Many of the riddlelike questions will play well in a storytime setting, allowing readers to ask a question and permitting children to imagine and participate in the answer. Bone by Bone does not have the detailed informational content or illustrative depth of Steve Parker's Skeleton (DK, 1988), but it does succeed in presenting basic structural differences among animals. This unusual book is interactive and thought-provoking, if a little gross in certain sections.–Jeffrey Meyer, Mount Pleasant Public Library, IAα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Alongside an illustration of skin collected in goopy puddles upon the sidewalk, the author asks, “Have you ever wondered what we would look like if we didn’t have any bones?” Children will enjoy the humorous illustrations and labeled diagrams as they predict the morphing of a human skeleton, Dr. Moreau–style, into that of various animals. By adding vertebrae to a boy’s back—presto!—he has a tail. And by removing leg and arm bones, just like that he becomes a snake. The author makes a careful distinction between vertebrate and vertebrae, but adults will likely have to make further explanations to younger children. Then, with the question, “Could you be an animal if you didn’t have any bones at all?” the book switches briefly to invertebrates. With its wild, inventive, and occasionally alarming animal-human mash-ups, this works as a lighter companion to Steve Jenkins’ Bones: Skeletons and How They Work (2010). Grades K-3. --J. B. Petty
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Product Details

  • Library Binding: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group (August 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0761384642
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761384649
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 10 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #213,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sara Levine is an assistant professor of biology at Wheelock College and a veterinarian. She holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from Lesley University and has taught writing and literature courses there as well. Her publications include mostly science-related essays for adults, one of which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2007. Her writing has appeared in the Health and Science section of the Boston Globe, The Massachusetts Review, Bayou, and in an anthology titled And Baby Makes More. In addition to teaching college level students, she has also been teaching children's environmental education classes for the Massachusetts Audubon Society and other nature centers in Massachusetts and Connecticut for over 15 years. Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons is her first book for children.

If you are a teacher looking for ideas on how to teach comparative anatomy to children, here's link to a blog she wrote for Wheelock College that might be of use: http://blog.wheelock.edu/science-education-can-be-creative-and-fun/

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Natalie Lorenzi on July 26, 2013
Format: Library Binding
As soon as I read the e-galley of Bone by Bone, I ordered a copy for our school library. It's rare to find a book on life science that's so appealing for very young children, yet has lots to offer for upper elementary kids, as well.

The various fonts are visually appealing without feeling too busy, and delightful illustrations help readers to imagine what they might look like if they had, say, extra vertebrae (a tail) or finger bones that reached the ground (like a bat's webbed fingers). The information is delivered in a clear, straightforward manner with a Q&A format that will get kids predicting before each page-turn.

The back matter-sections titled More About Bones and More About Vertebrates, and recommended books and websites for further reading-can all be used for differentiating instruction for kids who want to go more in depth with the information in the book. Struggling readers or English Language Learners can use the illustrations to grasp the book's main idea.

Although this is an any-time-of-year book, it would be fun to include Bone by Bone in a Halloween display. Highly recommended.

My complete blog post on how teachers and librarians can use this book with kids is here: [...]
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By NWDCHM on August 13, 2013
Format: Library Binding Verified Purchase
I thought about headlines such as "great introduction to comparative anatomy" but that sounded too serious for such a fun book. The writing encourages the readers' involvement in thinking about their own structure and that of animals in our vertebrate family, using questions to pull the readers to the next page. This book is a great way to bridge many children's (and adults') interest in animals generally with learning about biology. Highly recommended for homes, schools, and libraries.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Wlibrarian on August 11, 2013
Format: Library Binding
Bone by Bone is thoroughly engaging as it sparks children's interest in anatomy. Rather than presenting dry facts, a child's imagination is called into play as they consider extending their limbs and digits, and then taking some away. Kids come away with a tangible understanding of what they have in common with other animals and what makes each special.

The vocabulary is mostly simple; yet words like "vertabrae" can be challenging, even with the glossary, so prepare to be on hand to help younger readers.

A real page-turner (your opposable thumbs that is)!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Marcy Dermansky on September 21, 2013
Format: Library Binding Verified Purchase
My daughter Nina loves this book. When we were done reading it, she said to me: "Bones hold a body up." I have learned a lot about bones, too.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By G Mohr on December 6, 2013
Format: Library Binding Verified Purchase
Fantastic book - even for our 10 and 13 year olds! Well written and illustrated. Bought it as a gift and kept it!
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Format: Library Binding
Seriously, if we didn’t have any bones we’d all look like big blobs on the ground. Can you picture yourself looking like a puddle with a couple of eyeballs on top? The reason we don’t look like blobs is because “we’re vertebrates, animals with bones.” There are all kinds of vertebrates around us and if you check out that x-ray-like picture of one of “us” and that bear, you can see the similarities. Now just what would you look like if “we added some bones to your spine?” Mighty silly looking for sure. However, if they didn’t stop at your rear end you would have a tail. How good can it get to have a tail like a dog or a gator!

How about if you had a few less bones than you do now and “what if you didn’t have any arm or leg bones?” Check it out and do some thinking now. No skull, no vertebrae, and no ribs. Looks like you just might be a ssssssnake! Now they don’t have any arms or legs, but neither does another critter. This one doesn’t have any nose and if we moved “your breathing holes from the front of your face to the top of your skull” (eeew!), what would you be? Of course you would be a whale or a dolphin. Perhaps you guessed that one easily, but there are many other “riddles” about bones that might stump you in this book.

This marvelously fun and ingenious book that compares animal skeletons will fascinate the young reader. Of course it will keep them guessing as well. There are a few clues the young detective will have to think about before turning the page to find the answer. The illustrations pop and add a lot to the comparisons. For example, you can see a girl with huge vertebrae in her neck. Once you turn the page it’s easy to see that the giraffe is the owner of that type.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Shane Wamsley on January 9, 2014
Format: Library Binding Verified Purchase
I read this book to my three year old for a week and then we went to the museum to look at the skeleton displays.

Fantastic introduction into taxonomy. Although she still preferred the animatronics dinosaurs at the museum...sigh
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nonfiction on February 25, 2015
Format: Library Binding
This is an extremely well-written and engaging book on comparative anatomy for early elementary students. The illustrations are also fantastic and help young readers visualize the analogous bones in humans and other animals. The book is a great combination of scientifically accurate information and fun presentation which is sadly somewhat hard to find in children's science books. Both the illustrations and text are humourous and the book is structured to draw in kids by asking questions about what kind of animal you would be if you had different sorts of bone structures/configurations.
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