What Breathes Through Its Butt: Mind-Blowing Science Questions Answered
Dr. Emily Grossman
Illustrated by Alice Bowsher
Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Published November 10, 2020
About What Breathes Through Its Butt
A funny and interactive book that explains the surprising science behind everyday kid questions.
Why is your elbow called your funny bone? How could you escape the grip of a crocodile’s jaw? Which animal can breathe through its butt? This book uncovers the amazing scientific explanations behind all sorts of questions that can pop into our heads. Can an egg bounce? How can a giraffe’s ridiculously long neck contain the same number of bones as a human’s? How much does the Internet weigh? With delightful interactive features that invite readers to guess answers to questions and make links between different scientific concepts, this is a great book for reluctant readers and STEAM lovers alike.
Okay, so I’m kind of embarrassed that it took me so long to review this book. I received a copy of WHAT BREATHES THROUGH ITS BUTT from the publisher, but I hadn’t asked for it. This past year I’ve really struggled to keep up with reading and posting reviews in ways that I never struggled before between the pandemic, family stuff, and my own health issues. I’m trying to get caught up, though, and so here I am, posting about this book at last.
One of the reasons it took me SO LONG to read this book is that, to be honest, I found the format of it kind of off-putting. The font is more of a handwriting style font and while it’s broken up into different sections with drawings alongside, I felt like it looked chaotic.
Now that I’ve read the book, I think the font choice might have been designed to support the book’s informal, conversational feel, which if true is a cool idea. I just… yeah. For me, it made the book harder for me to read.
Apart from that, though, I actually enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected to. The conversational style that Dr. Grossman uses kept the pages feeling fun and light. Each section begins with a multiple choice question, like, “How much does the whole of the internet weigh?”, or “Which animal alive today has the strongest bite?” The reader sees four possible answers to pick from, and then the text begins to explore each of the possible answers.
The questions are a bit all over the place, so it’s not a book that focuses on any single topic. There are questions about space, animals, the human body, light, and more.
I’ve never seen a format like this before, but I’m a huge fan now. It made the book feel really interactive, and I found myself invested in reading the answers every time. I thought the illustrations were really fun and cute and definitely matched the tone of the book.
I haven’t read tons of juvenile nonfiction, but of what I’ve read, this book does the best job showing science in action. Each section starts with a question. Then it invites the reader to form a hypothesis. Then it looks at and compares evidence. I’ve never seen a book kind of just DO science the way this one does, and in such a friendly, fun way!
Honestly, I expected to like this book about 25% as much as I actually like it. I’m still not a huge fan of the font choice, but I love the way it makes science accessible and fun. It’s easily the kind of book you can get carried away reading. I think it’s a great pick for a school or classroom library or a budding science lover.
Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.
Illustrations show a racially diverse group of kids.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
As you already guessed from the title, this book has some mildly crude language and explores animal behaviors including pooping, burping, and passing gas and the science behind why they happen or their impact on the environment.
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