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Biology: Life as We Know It! Paperback – September 16, 2008
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From School Library Journal
Grade 3–8—One page each is devoted to entries covering diverse topics from mitochondria, bacteria, and amphibians to T cells, chlorophyll, and fruit. Entries classify the item, highlight three important points, provide a sassy description, and conclude with three interesting facts. The bold and colorful Japanese-influenced graphics anthropomorphize scientific components, adding to the title's appeal for young readers or older reluctant readers trying to get a handle on the basics of biology. A lot of information, some basic and some quite advanced, is introduced, and the book is therefore a bit more unwieldy than Adrian Dingle's The Periodic Table (2007) and Green's Physics (2008, both Kingfisher). However, it is a fun, albeit brief, introduction to a vast topic.—Ragan O'Malley, Saint Ann's School, Brooklyn, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Dan Green studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge University. Since graduating, he has written and edited many popular science titles and humorous books, become the editor of a South American national newspaper, worked as a travel writer, as well as developing and editing the wildly successful Horrible Science magazine collection. He is the "voice" of Basher's bestselling science-made-easy books, and to date has written nine titles in the series.
Simon Basher is an artist and designer who has fun playing in the world of contemporary character design. Inspired by a love of simple line work and a rich palette, his characters blend the edge of manga with the cuteness of Hello Kitty.
Top customer reviews
This series of books is one of the best I've seen for sparking an interest and understanding of science. My 6 year old and I love to open the book to a random page to decide what we want to learn about that day. It provides enough information and covers the general principles so well that he is able to ask great questions I would expect from a much older child. It's allows him to acquire the necessary vocabulary for understanding videos, chapter books, and more in depth information we look up on the Internet after we've read the highlights as an introduction in one of the books in this series. I would equate it to watching School House Rock before watching a documentary so the child understands the main idea using both scientific terminology and a layman's explanation.
If I were a science teacher I would start each new unit with an overview using this book to allow the students to see how each part makes up the whole and what the main ideas are. It's a wonderful supplement to more difficult books that will allow children to learn about whatever fascinates them no matter their age or education. It would also be a great tool for older kids when studying for a test. Instead of a boring definition dense with terminology they may find hard to remember, you get an illustration that will help you remember the terms and what they relate to and a couple of paragraphs that expand on the bullet points at the top of the page. By combining scientific terminology with layman's definitions, it is much easier to understand the terminology using context instead of rote memorization.
These books never sit on a shelf in our home. They are always out where they are easy to pick up for a quick read and we often take them with us to restaurants, appointments, or anywhere waiting is involved to keep us entertained. You can cover one topic in a few minutes or a chapter or two if you have a bit more time. Each topic stands alone nicely so my son often picks it up reads a page or two throughout the day. My husband and I enjoy reading them as well and using them to answer questions.
The way topics are grouped allows one to see how everything is interconnected without being overwhelming, it's a very logical progression. Each topic is covered by 2 pages; the first lists the primary "job" of the system being discussed and the second has a cartoon drawing of the system. I would equate it to superhero trading cards with a bit more in depth information.
The pictures make each topic easier to remember and relate to and topics are grouped by function. Chapter 3 is Body Parts: the heart, red blood cell, B Cell (white blood cells aka B lymphocyte), T Cell, lungs, skeleton, muscle, brain, nervous system, etc. By making a blood cell a character with a job and describing the way he works with the lungs or another type of cell, the author has made complex and hard to imagine concepts "more real" and very accessible for those without much of a background in science.
Right now our favorites are Biology and Rocks & Minerals. I usually use the book on Physics when I am trying to explain tough concepts (for a 6 yr old) that are hard to put into words he can understand. Gravity, acceleration, friction, mass, energy, atoms, or force are all concepts I had a tough time explaining using vocabulary he could really grasp.
These books have sparked so many interesting conversations, helped with school projects (yes, they have projects in Kindergarten these days), and made watching the Discovery Channel so much more interesting to him because he understands key concepts and terminology. If he starts losing interest in something I know he would normally love because it's a bit dense with geek-speak, we just pause the TV and read a few pages in the related book, after a few minutes of reading he's asking questions and pointing out related facts he's learned from the book. The books definitely make science fun, accessible, and much more meaningful. It's made my son feel smart and capable which has drastically increased his confidence and made him enjoy school so much more.
Many of the books come with a free poster.
This book, and the series as a whole, has made my science reluctant 7 yr. old interested in technical topics. She realizes that science is fun, interesting, something she can do, and as fun as girly things like princesses- a big step at our house. She started with Basher's Biology because that was about cute things like animals and has since had the interest to read Physics, Astronomy, and the Periodic Table. My son read Physics and the Periodic Table first, because "those are serious topics," and has since discovered that Biology is serious and, dare I say, interesting and not gross. I am ordering three more titles today.