Monday, October 27, 2008

The Brain - Genre 4 Nonfiction and Biography

Simon, Seymour. 1997. The brain: Our nervous system. New York: Morrow Junior Books. ISBN 0688146406.
Plot Summary
This is the story of the brain. Simon explains the important jobs of the brain and then tells how the brian performs them. It ties the brain into the central nervous system and then details the various parts of the system. Each part has its own job and parts. The book describes and defines glial cells, neurons, the spinal cord, the cerebrum, cerebellum, brainstem and many more.

Along with the descriptions and definitions are photographs and illustrations labeling the various parts described. The photographs are especially informational as they are actual pictures of the brain taken through scanning electron microscopes. Some of the photos are colored to help aide in part identification. Ultimately, the book both shows and describes the functions of the brain and central nervous system.
Critical Analysis
This informational book does a great job teaching the reader about the brain and central nervous system in general. While the vocabulary can get difficult, the author seamlessly defines it as he writes - though some pronunciation guides would be helpful. The text is written in such a way that the high-level concepts can make sense to even readers who struggle some.

The photographs and illustrations also add interest. Very few readers can resist actual pictures of the brain - what it looks like, how it's put together, how it works. The pictures go very well with the text to support and further describe.
Professional Review Excerpt
from Did you know that your brain (yes, even yours) is roughly the size of a large grapefruit? Award-winning author Seymour Simon clearly and skillfully exposes the many wonders of the brain and nervous system in The Brain: Our Nervous System. Author of more than 150 children's books about science, including The Heart: Our Circulatory System, Muscles: Our Muscular System, and Bones: Our Skeletal System, Simon has a knack for piquing the curiosity of youngsters and clearly communicating scientific facts. The Brain, written for ages 8 and older, is a solid launching pad for further investigation of the organ that makes us who we are. Kids will love learning that our brains grow until we are 7 years old, that our spines have 33 vertebrae, and that our skulls are made of 28 bones. Large, full-color photographs and illustrations show the fascinating, if slightly nauseating, areas of the human brain--a positron computed tomography (PCT) photo, for example, shows the dramatically different levels of visual stimulation to the brain when your eyes are open or closed. Two to three paragraphs of large type per page, plus one full-bleed illustration per spread, help make The Brain just the right amount of information for one grapefruit-sized brain to take in.

from School Library Journal In this most recent effort, Simon brings his deft touch to an explanation of the brain and the nervous system. His clear, concise writing style is complemented by stunning color images taken with radiological scanners, such as CAT scans, MRIs, and SEMs (scanning electron microscopes.) Included in his explanation are descriptions of the anatomy and function of the parts of the brain, long and short term memory, neurons, dendrites, and more. The layout is familiar?a page of text facing a full-page photo. There is no glossary or index, but, as usual, the book is so well organized that they won't be missed.
~Obviously, this book could be connected to biology and the actual study of the brain and/or central nervous system.
~This book could also be used to teach context clues and how to find the definition of a word within the text.
~Another possible use for this book would be the use of technology, photography, and illustrations to support the text.

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