By: Joelle Riley
Publisher: Lerner Publications
Publication Date: August 2012
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 2012
You have hundreds of muscles in your body, but just what tells them what to do and how to do it? Your nervous system “controls all the other systems,” including those muscles. If you didn’t have a nervous system, you wouldn’t be able to do much of anything. The nervous system “is made up of your nerves, your spinal cord, and your brain.” The nerves act as a messenger service as they carry important messages around your body. Your spinal cord is a connector that sends these messages to the brain. You probably are aware that your brain is the organ with which you do all your thinking. It keeps watch on your body and it “tells the other body systems what to do.”
Nerves themselves are “made up of special cells called nerve cells.” These special cells are the messengers that seek out messages throughout your body and send them along. If you look closely at the diagram in this book you will see that the cell has a cell body, a tail, and branching hairs. You can see how the message is passed through the cell and onto other parts of the body. A photograph shows nerve cells bundled together and you will read that “nerves are big enough to be seen without a microscope.” Receptors placed in assorted parts of the body collect messages to send along. For example, there are receptor cells in your “skin, ears, eyes, nose, and tongue.”
Your spine, or backbone, houses your spinal cord. Your spinal cord fits nicely “through the holes in your backbone.” If you feel your spine, you can easily tell that your spine will be protected by the bones. Your brain is “the part of your body that makes you who you are.” The brain also needs protection as it is very soft and the bones in your skull protect it. You’ll learn about the brain’s three main parts, their purpose, what messages they receive and hand along, how “your nerves, spinal cords, and brain work together,” you’ll read about how a receptor hands along a message, reflexes, and you’ll learn many other things about how your nervous system functions.
This book is an excellent way for a young student to learn about the nervous system and how it works. As a beginning nonfiction chapter book, newly independent and independent readers will be able to learn about the nervous system. The layout of the book is inviting with full-color photographs, diagrams, and microphotographs of receptors and nerve cells. Captions add additional informative factual material. For example, when looking at an x-ray of a skull we learn that “The round part of the skull protects the brain. That part of the skull is made up of eight flat bones that fit together like puzzle pieces.” In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, a basic diagram of the nervous system, and additional recommended book and website resources. There are free downloadable educational resources on the publisher’s website.
Quill says: If you have students who would like to know how their body works, this is one is a series of six that you may want to add to your list!