The Way We Work: Getting to Know the Amazing Human Body

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by David Macaulay and Richard Walker. Nonfiction. 336 pages. Grades 6-12.
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Review

cover art

Macaulay has turned his able hand from The Way Things Work to The Way We Work. Well written with fascinating drawings he breaks human anatomy and physiology into seven chapters: Building Life (cell structure), Air Traffic Control (respiration), Let's Eat (digestion), Who's in Charge Here (nervous system), Battle Stations (immune system), Moving On (skeletal and musculature), and Extending the Line (reproduction). Most of the 336 pages are covered with Macaulay's illustrations of body parts and processes. There are humorous touches like the "MOM" tatoo on the cross section diagram of a vaccination needle going into muscle tissue and the diving board in the illustration of the various types of cells that are suspended in the "pool" of plasma that makes up our blood.

Many of the drawings have that kind of tongue in cheek portrayal of what the - mostly straight faced - text is describing. Tiny tourists watch through binoculars on a deck overlooking the back of the throat as the tongue guides food down. Tiny angels with guide wires hold up the large intestine where it goes across the top. The distribution of oxygen is depicted as an amusement park ride.

This is a book to curl up with while reading the text, exploring the pictures and extending ones understanding of our body. As Macaulay says in the introduction, "Each of us owns and inhabits an exceptional example of biological engineering and one that deserves to be understood and celebrated."

This title is especially appropriate for middle school and high school students. Younger students might need help with the density of information. A good extension of or substitute for textbooks and a good source for report writing.

Use this book in health, biology and art classes.


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