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BODY WATCH : Internal Affairs : Student Gives Thumbs Up to Science Book With Wit, Style

October 04, 1994|ALEXIS SHERMAN / SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Alexis Sherman is a junior at Malibu High School.

Science can be fun.

If this sounds like a piece of nonfiction, guess again. Here's a 15-year-old's view of Steve Parker's new book, "How the Body Works: 100 Ways Parents and Kids Can Share the Miracle of the Human Body . "

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What You'll See: This is an inventive science book full of fascinating information, colorful diagrams and fun experiments for 9- to 15-year-olds. The book is geared toward curious kids who like to learn about the way the body operates. Although some of the vocabulary is clearly for older kids, the book can be easily understood by younger ones.

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Author! Author!: Kudos for writing style. Each chapter is set up with an opening paragraph that includes a brief overview of the subjects to be discussed. From there it's broken down into experiments, facts and definitions. I really appreciated the division. It wasn't too much information to digest at one time.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday October 5, 1994 Home Edition Life & Style Part E Page 2 Column 5 View Desk 1 inches; 23 words Type of Material: Correction
Body Watch--A review of "How the Body Works" in Tuesday's Life & Style had the wrong byline. The article was written by Alexis Sherwin, a junior at Malibu High School.

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EV (Entertainment Value): The author is very witty. He even does the impossible and makes the statistical informational enjoyable. This is nothing like the typical high school biology book that everyone hates to read. He uses analogies to describe everyday objects and emotions. For example, mitochondria, he writes, "is a sausage-shaped structure . . . like a power station." If someone would have explained it to me that way instead of "mitochondria is an organelle in the cytoplasm of cells that functions (blah, blah, blah) . . . " when I took biology this past year, I probably would have done better on my test.

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Not Just for Brain Surgeons: The book is challenging, not mind-boggling. Everything is very well explained and usually has an accompanying diagram to illustrate the point.

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Young Dr. Frankensteins: For younger kids, this book might open up a door of enthusiasm for science, or at least a better knowledge about themselves. For older kids, the book can be used as a backup to something that might otherwise be explained in more complicated terms.

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Step Into My Laboratory: The experiments are ingenious and easy to perform. The instructions are clear and the author has a good explanation for each result. The materials needed are inexpensive, most of the items can be found in the house or at a hardware store.

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This Isn't Like My Father's Science Book: What makes the book different from most others is that it is put into an entertaining format. Even the 8-year-old girl I baby-sit would enjoy it. And at least it's better that watching Nickelodeon for 10 hours straight, right?

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Mom, I Didn't Blow Up the House: Right from the onset, Parker states that some of the experiments need adult supervision, and before each experiment he warns what precautions should be taken. Either he's wise or he's avoiding a lawsuit.

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How About Those Visuals: I love a book with pictures. It reminds me of easier, carefree days in third grade. The book explodes with informative illustrations--hundreds of photographs, drawings and microscope images illuminate the pages.

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What Kids Will Think: Most will have fun flipping through this book and trying out some of the experiments with their friends or parents.

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What Parents Will Think: If you want your child to be a doctor or a scientist, buying this book could be a subtle hint.

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