By: Buffy Silverman
Publisher: Lerner Publications
Publication Date: August 2012
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 2012
Nobody is exactly like the next person, but we all have certain things in common such as arms and legs. There are ways that we do differ from others. Some of these differences “are called traits.” Skin color, dimples, freckles, and eye color are a few examples of traits. Genes give our bodies the “directions for different traits.” We don’t just have a few genes, but have thousands of them. You have two pairs of genes that are given to you from your birth parents. If you take a look around you, you will see that you have much more in common with people than with animals.
One trait that you can easily take a look at is hair color. Your genes “give directions” for the colors we have when they tell the body which pigment to give us and how much to use. If you look at the pictures in this book you’ll see a dark-haired boy and a light-haired girl. His hair has alleles for a lot of pigment, while she “has alleles for light hair.” Alleles are two or more forms of a gene. You’ll learn about pigments, where red hair comes from, hair texture (curly, wavy, straight), uncommon traits such as a forelock, you’ll get to see pictures of a widow’s peak, and will learn many more interesting things about hair traits.
This is a fun look at hair traits for the young student in the “What Traits are in Your Genes?” series. As a beginning nonfiction book it is geared toward the newly independent reader. There are four basic “chapters” and the text is large and easy to read. The layout is bright, contains full-color photographs with informative captions that provide additional factual material or asks the student to think about what he or she sees. For example, one says that “A gene comes in two different forms, called alleles. This boy has alleles for dark hair.” In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, an activity (Track the Traits), and additional recommended book and website resources to explore. There are free downloadable educational resources on the publisher’s website.
Quill says: This is a basic nonfiction book for young students that will help them not only learn about their bodies, but also their genetic inheritance.