Why is Snot Green? by Glenn Murphy
|Why is Snot Green? by Glenn Murphy|
|Genre: Children's Non-Fiction|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: A perfectly pitched, informative, interesting and amusing science book book for children at Key Stage 2 and slightly beyond. The vocabulary is challenging but the clear sentence structure and bite-size presentation make it easy to read. Great stuff.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 240||Date: April 2007|
|Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books|
Go on. You don't know, do you? Why is snot green? I'll tell you. Snot is green because it contains a special bacteria-busting protein which itself contains a form of iron that reflects green light and absorbs all other colours. Wasabi, the Japanese sauce, contains the same protein. That's why it's green, too. Hold that thought. Dried snot - you know, the bogeys that you pick and stick on the wall to drive your mother mad - isn't green because once it leaves the body and the air begins to dry it out, the cells in the snot containing the proteins - phagocytes - die and the green colour disappears.
Do rabbits fart?
Well, almost. If, by fart, you mean 'release gas from the gut' then all animals with guts will, in fact, fart. Insects, fish, lizards, cats, dogs, mice, elephants... almost any creature you can think of. In fact, the only ones that don't fart are those that didn't evolve guts - like sponges, jellyfish and some types of worm.
This whole farting thing gets quite interesting, actually. Apparently, termites are the top farters on Earth. The combined farts of termites produce more methane - a greenhouse gas, in case you didn't know - than cars, planes and factories all put together. Cattle burps have a pretty shocking effect on global warming too.
These are just two of the almost two hundred questions answered in Why Is Snot Green? by the Science Museum's head of communications, Glenn Murphy. Thankfully, they're not all concerned with bodily functions and gruesomeness. They're neatly arranged into five sections - about space, about the planet, about animals, about humans and about the future. It covers many of the topics children will come across in Key Stage Two science, but it isn't geared to providing answers for the dreaded SATS tests; it's geared to providing interesting and inspirational context to the broad topics they're covering at school. It does that, and then some.
I found the sections about humans and animals most interesting - and I actually found a better section on lightning in this book than I found when searching the internet about it not so long ago. My older son (11 and Year 6) liked the part which talked about technology and the future and my younger son (10 and Year 5) just devoured and loved it all as he busily put a backstory to the lessons he's doing at school. He had more than a few eureka moments as he read. It is not easy to combine information and entertainment without sacrificing something on one side or the other, but Why Is Snot Green? manages remarkably well.
The whole book is a perfect exercise in plain but good English. The vocabulary isn't dumbed down for young readers and includes some fairly complex words. Rather, Murphy avoids the passive voice and sticks to short, direct and active sentences to convey some quite difficult concepts in a simple way. I heartily approve of this. English is a language with a great many words, each with a precise shade of meaning. The more words a child can collect, the better they are able to express themselves. Simple and straightforward doesn't have to be limited, as this book quite clearly proves. You can see why the Science Museum is such a success with people like Murphy in charge of training.
There's an awful lot of interesting information and illuminating context in this little book. There's also some very good writing and a decent dollop of dreadful puns too. And all for the pocket money price of a fiver. It's best suited to children in Years 5 and 6, at Key Stage 2 level, but it didn't feel babyish to me, at Key Stage Too Scary To Think About. It's highly recommended.
My thanks to Macmillan for sending the book.
Crimebusters explains forensic science to late primary and early secondary school children and even has some fun experiments. Older children will like the New Scientist Christmas 2006 hit, Why Don't Penguin's Feet Freeze?.
Why is Snot Green? by Glenn Murphy is in the Top Ten Books For Children Who Think That Farts Are Funny.
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