cover image Human Body Theater

Human Body Theater

Maris Wicks. Roaring Brook/First Second, $14.99 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-59643-929-0

The sheer volume of information Wicks (Primates) packs into this theatrical tour of the human body is mind-boggling. A cheery skeleton presides over the presentation of anatomical facts, hamming it up with corny jokes (“This may be the endocrine system, but it sure ain’t the end-o-this show!”). The skeleton’s sidekicks—a finger who serves as a demonstration model, a friendly water molecule, and dozens of other biological entities—prance on and off the stage on tiny legs. Early sections are somewhat slow going (“Golgi bodies package proteins into vesicles”), and the glossary, puzzlingly, tends to define familiar terms and omit the more technical ones. But Wicks’s clearly drawn diagrams are easy to follow, and once readers beat their way through the alveoli and fibrinogen, they are free to consider elimination (with a guest appearance by some talking poop), reproduction (with low-key, inoffensive schematic drawings), and descriptions of the senses. The payoff comes at the very end, when the skeleton dons all the systems it has described and is revealed as the author. Brilliant adjunct reading for biology students and the terminally curious. Ages 10–14. Agent: Bernadette Baker-Baughman, Victoria Sanders & Associates. (Oct.)